Nanaimo's tent city has been evacuated after a resident found what appeared to be a homemade bomb, according to police.

The tent city resident found the bomb and brought it to officers stationed near the encampment. They confirmed it appeared to contain some of the same components used for building pipe bombs, but investigators aren't saying if the device is operational.

Out of precaution, police cleared out a 50 by 100 metre zone around the camp, and also closed nearby Front Street to traffic.

Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Gary O'Brien said an explosive disposal unit had been called out to the site and wouldn't arrive until 9 or 10 p.m. Friday.

Homeless people displaced by the evacuation are allowed to go to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Gordon Street in the meantime, O'Brien said.

They would be allowed to return to tent city after the device was cleared.

Police say they've already taken several statements and an investigation into the device is underway, but there have been no suspects identified or charges recommended.

In late August, a resident suffered second and third-degree burns from reported fireworks going off in a tent at the encampment.

It comes on the same day campers at the site were supposed to leave under a court-ordered injunction. That didn't happen after the city agreed to give them more time while a judge considers an extension request launched by lawyers for the encampment.