The first tent city earlier this year did accomplish a few things, including bringing awareness to the issue. The second tent city is bound to do more of the same.
A new camp for people experiencing homelessness, Discontent City was set up at Esplanade and Front Street last week.
It’s not far from the first tent city’s location at Nanaimo City Hall grounds, but moving a few blocks could potentially mean a different approach as to how municipal leadership chooses to deal with the camp. At city hall there was an immediacy for mayor and council to find ways to work with the homeless people and their advocates to find compromises. Soon we will begin to find if the same will exists this time.
The tent city campers are asking, this time, that a portion of the land they’re occupying be set aside for some kind of social housing.
There’s no question that more social housing is needed, though certainly all involved must understand the time frames to bring a project from idea to a grand opening, and there would have to be consideration of south downtown waterfront plans, zoning and a public process and consultation with the Snuneymuxw First Nation before decision-making happens around that piece of land, let alone construction.
For now, it’s a place for people experiencing homelessness to protest, and also have a space where they probably won’t get asked to move along, at least not immediately. There were suggestions, during the last tent city, that the municipality was quietly hoping the campers would be willing to relocate in the south downtown and now that’s happened.
Discontent City is a protest and a place to be, and we will find out if it’s any kind of real solution.