An unsanctioned safe consumption site is operating near Nanaimo City Hall.

An unsanctioned safe consumption site is operating near Nanaimo City Hall.

Nanaimo city staff return to work as city hall remains closed

NANAIMO – Service and Resource Centre open to the public.

It’s almost business as usual for the City of Nanaimo.The majority of city employees are back at work and the Service and Resource Centre (SARC) is open for business today, but Nanaimo City Hall remains closed to the public.The centre and city hall were closed yesterday and the majority of city staff were instructed to remain at home due to safety concerns about an unsanctioned supervised consumption site operating out of the parking lot at city hall.Kim Fowler, the city’s chief sustainability officer, confirmed to the News Bulletin that city staff are back at work and the resource centre is open to the public. She said city hall remains closed to the public because a number of employees are off for the holidays, adding that staffing levels would have been low this week regardless of the unsanctioned supervised consumption site.“Parts of city hall, even if you came in the building this week, would have been closed anyway because of low staffing levels,” she said. “We don’t have any admin staff in several areas.”Fowler said the majority of the public won’t be affected by the closure of city hall because most services are handled at the resources centre.”Ninety-five per cent of the traffic from the public goes into SARC anyway,” she said. “We have very little traffic into city hall.”The city has taken steps to ensure the public is safe while coming and going from the resources centre, according to Fowler. “There are two security personnel in SARC. So if anyone has any issues there are personnel there to assist them immediately. Secondly, we have put up signs around the [building] so that public is aware that there is an unauthorized injection site [nearby].” The injection site has been operating at its current location since Boxing Day. Fowler said bylaw officers cannot shut the site down until they receive direction from councillors.”That actually requires a decision of council. A remedial order requires a resolution of council. A trespass requires a decision of council and that is under the local government act or the community charter,” she said. “Council can give orders to staff as to whether or not to enforce something or not enforce something.”

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