A large white tent housing an unsanctioned supervised consumption site has forced the closure of two municipal buildings in Nanaimo.Nanaimo City Hall and the adjacent Service and Resource Centre were shut down earlier today and the majority of city employees told to remain at home.Brad McRae, the city’s chief operating officer, told the News Bulletin that both buildings were closed due to safety concerns surrounding a supervised injection site that has been operating out of city hall’s parking lot since Boxing Day. “There are concerns about an unauthorized injection site placed on the city hall parking lot. For that reason we have closed … today,” he said. McRae said only a few senior staff members, including himself, are working out of the either building.”All the rest of staff are at home,” he said.Both municipal buildings will reopen to the public tomorrow (Dec. 30) according to McRae, who said the city will take a variety of measures to ensure employees remain safe.
“We are going to make it so that staff are safe and secure to come to work tomorrow,” he said.
A special council meeting that would have seen councillors discuss supervised-injection sites was scheduled by the City of Nanaimo at the resources centre building for 1 p.m. today (Dec. 29). However, the meeting was cancelled as there were not enough councillors present to reach quorum. Councillors Gord Fuller, Dianne Brennan and Jim Kipp were the only members of council who attended.After the meeting, Fuller told the News Bulletin that he wasn’t surprised that the special council meeting didn’t reach quorum, adding that councillors were only informed about the meeting on Wednesday.“We had at least five councillors who had notified that they weren’t going to be able to make it … we were obligated to hold the meeting once it was called,” he said.Vancouver Island Health Authority has expressed its intention to establish its own safe-injection site somewhere within Nanaimo as early as next week.Fuller, one of the organizers behind the pop-up supervised-injection site, said it will remain at city hall until Monday (Jan. 2). “We are going to stay open at that location until at least Monday, possibly longer,” he said.