Fire safety order enforced on growing Nanaimo homeless camp
Published Thursday, October 29, 2020 4:52PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, October 29, 2020 5:55PM PDT
Homeless campers are pictured in Nanaimo: (CTV News)
NANAIMO -- Safety concerns at a growing homeless camp on Wesley Street in downtown Nanaimo has forced officials to impose the city’s fire safety order.
On Tuesday morning, Nanaimo RCMP members along with City of Nanaimo bylaw officers attended the area and removed tents that were on private property and ensured that the remaining tents were properly spaced out. All open combustible materials were also removed.
Some of the tents were covered together with tarps, which the city says is a serious safety concern.
“This is to ensure fire does not break out and cause injury or loss of life,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog.
Upwards of 35 tents were on the street and officials will be monitoring the area regularly to ensure that safety measures are being met.
Campers have occupied the Wesley Street area for several months. The mayor says the situation has become problematic and that there’s a level of criminality within it.
“It’s not just a safety concern for the people living in the tents, it’s also a safety concern for local businesses, people living in the area and city staff,” said Krog, adding that the city’s Service and Resource Centre building is adjacent to the encampment.
Krog says the province has committed to building up to 880 units of supportive housing for the Harbour City and that most of the units are either in the construction or planning stages.
However, Krog has been a strong advocate in the past for the creation of a secure mental health and addictions facility and still believes such facility is needed today.
“There’s no question in my mind that some of them require some form of a secure facility where their severe mental health and addiction issues can be dealt with appropriately and they can be safe and secure,” he said.