Occupy Nanaimo protesters here to stay

Occupy Nanaimo protesters have no plans to vacate plaza, city not going to force them out.

Matthew O’Donnell

Matthew O’Donnell

Occupy Nanaimo protesters are here to stay, even though the city is formally notifying them they are in violation of a city bylaw.

Nanaimo RCMP bike officers began handing out written notices to protesters Wednesday that they are in contradiction of Parks Bylaw 7073, which includes remaining in a park during restricted hours, occupying for lodging, remaining when directed to leave, building structures, littering and fixing signs.

“We’ve been telling them all along verbally that they are in contradiction of city bylaws,” said Al Kenning, city manager. “The written notices just confirm the verbal information.”

Kenning said there is no ultimatum, but the RCMP will continue to hand out notices until things change.

Other Occupy encampments in Victoria and Vancouver are under threat of being dismantled.

After the death of an Occupy protester and a non-fatal drug overdose in Vancouver, the City of Vancouver moved to evict the protesters. Victoria is also looking to evict the protestors because several winter events are planned for their Occupy site.

Matthew O’Donnell, an Occupy Nanaimo protester, said each Occupy location is separate, even though they stand in solidarity.

“I’m heartbroken about what happened [in Vancouver],” he said. “We stand in solidarity with all the Occupies, but we don’t have the same drug problem they do. We don’t have the same alcohol problem. We are a dry site.”

O’Donnell said Occupy Nanaimo has its own security and works with the RCMP to ensure no drugs and alcohol are brought into the camp.

The Nanaimo occupiers have no plans on leaving Diana Krall Plaza.

“We are here to stay. We have no intentions on leaving,” said O’Donnell. “In the sense of the global movement, we need to stay here to show our solidarity with the global Occupy movement. We think we can change the world globally and hopefully we will.”

O’Donnell said the protesters think they can help the community with homeless issues and have been brainstorming ideas about what to do.

The city has provided the protesters with a portable toilet since the protest began nearly a month ago and it has cost the city $700 so far to maintain.