As the city gets ready to take Discontent City to court, petitions opposing and supporting the homeless camp have been created.
Two petitions were started Thursday on Change.org. First came ‘Force Nanaimo City Council to Disband Discontent Tent City,’ and just hours later, the counter-petition, ‘Stop the City of Nanaimo from displacing homeless residents at Discontent City.’
Mercedes Courtoreille, Discontent City advocate, said her group’s petition was a direct response to the initial petition. She said it was nice to see that the petition in support of the camp had drawn, as of press time, more signatures.
“It’s something I hope will continue to show that tent city does have support in the community,” she said. “A lot of what people see, mostly on the internet, is a lot of bigoted, hateful comments. So it’s nice for people to also see that other side.”
She said signing a petition is a simple way for those who are in favour of the camp but wouldn’t necessarily stop by the site to help out, for example, to show their support.
Discontent City was set up May 17 at 1 Port Drive and as of yesterday, had grown to 159 tents, Courtoreille said. Earlier this week, the City of Nanaimo petitioned the Supreme Court of B.C. for a mandatory and permanent injunction ordering occupants to take down tents, dismantle structures and shelters, remove rubbish and vacate the site.
Courtoreille, who is the first respondent named in the petition to the court, said Discontent City’s legal counsel is preparing a response.
She called the community impact statements in the claim “really baseless and really sad, a lot of lies” and said it’s only because homelessness has become more visible in the area that people assume there’s more crime and other problems in the area.
“In terms of the camp, what the real failure would be is if we didn’t keep fighting, if we threw up our hands saying, ‘we’re done’…” she said. “There’s no interest in giving up, from anybody. We want to keep fighting and we want to keep working. This doesn’t go away.”
The petition asking for the homeless camp to be shut down was started by Change.org user Bobby Ross.
“Nanaimo’s tent city is a haven for drug addicts and dealers, it is not a safe haven for all of the homeless in the city,” the petition reads.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Discontent City better than alternatives
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nobody wants to live in tents
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Tent city campers are just squatters