The protest camp set up on the grounds of Nanaimo City Hall has been there nine days. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

No guarantee tents will be taken down at city hall

City council approved $350,000 in social spending at Monday’s meeting

Homeless people at Nanaimo’s tent city might not be ready to break camp quite yet.

The protest camp set up on the grounds of Nanaimo City Hall has been there almost nine days, and organizers achieved some of their goals as city council approved at Monday’s meeting $350,000 in spending to address social issues including homelessness.

But the campers might not be leaving right away.

Matthew O’Donnell, spokesman for the camp-out, praised council’s actions, which include more funding for the extreme weather shelter, public shower facilities, a rent supplement program and a daytime drop-in centre. He said supportive housing continues to represent another key solution.

“In the meantime, we must find a place for our homeless population to safely live in peace without bothering the neighbourhood around them,” O’Donnell said. “It’s the human thing to do and we can absolutely do it. We cannot accept anything less, realistically, because, like I said, people are suffering on the ground right now.”

His comments concerned Coun. Jerry Hong, who pointed out that O’Donnell had promised the tents would come down if city council approved the social spending.

O’Donnell said he would have a conversation with the campers at city hall, but “there are about 40 homeless people who live in that tent city and in the end it’s their decision.”

He said the camp-out started as civil disobedience, but became a safe space for people in Nanaimo experiencing homelessness.

Mercedes Courtoreille, who isn’t homeless but camped at city hall last week in solidarity, said she noticed that at last week’s council meeting, some people seemed shocked to hear that there are hundreds of homeless people in Nanaimo.

“This number is not new. You just haven’t seen them,” she said. “Which would you prefer, human beings being forced to hide in shame, isolated in the woods so we don’t have to see them, or would you prefer helping your fellow human being who is down on their luck? … Providing people with housing is literally the least that we could do.”

City council unanimously passes all nine recommendations from last week’s finance and audit committee meeting. The aforementioned measures will be supplemented by provision of more portable toilets, garbage cans and needle disposal boxes and more security and cleanups downtown.

“These nine recommendations are a major shift for this council…” said Coun. Diane Brennan. “That’s good to see that we can move when challenged, and certainly, we have been challenged.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Editorial: Be a fan of our unofficial civic sport, bathtubbing

Nanaimo’ Bathtub Weekend starts today, July 20, and culminates with the great race Sunday, July 22

Accident in Nanaimo after artillery gun rolls down hill and damages taxi

Accident happened in Comox Road and Terminal Avenue area Saturday afternoon

Lantzville politicians deny claims made against them in lawsuit

Civil lawsuit involves an accounting business sold by Colin and Denise Haime

Lantzville teen breaks BC Summer Games race walking record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

Closing arguments complete in trial of Nanaimo man representing self in fatal crash case

Judge expected to render decision Monday, July 23 at B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

Beefs & Bouquets, July 19

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Sr. A Timbermen can clinch a berth in WLA playoffs

A Burnaby loss tonight or a Nanaimo win on Sunday would put the T-men in the post-season

Final arguments made at tent city hearing, court won’t rule immediately

Lawyer says City of Nanaimo is concerned occupants would consume hand sanitizer

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Most Read