Discontent City won’t be shut down until the courts have had a chance to consider an extension to an order to shut down the camp.
The City of Nanaimo announced today, Oct. 12, that it won’t enforce an injunction, obtained in B.C. Supreme Court, against the downtown homeless camp, and will instead wait for a Supreme Court hearing next Friday, Oct. 19, when a lawyer for Discontent City supporters asks for an extension on the eviction order.
“The city is respecting the court’s need to consider the application and will defer the existing court order for clusure until the outcome of the application is known. Closure is still the goal…” said Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay. “Public safety continues to be the city’s No. 1 priority. The city is committed to a phased approach of the camp closure that is compassionate, respectful and structured and addresses the concerns raised in the fire safety order.”
The injunction took effect today.
On Thursday, the city set up service tents along Esplanade adjacent to Discontent City to assist with relocation for campers. Nanaimo fire chief Karen Fry, the city’s director of public safety, talked about a phased approach to shutting down the camp, but didn’t offer timelines.
By day’s end Thursday, the City of Nanaimo was sent a letter from the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition and 70 other signatories urging the city not to shut down the camp until supportive housing promised by the provincial government is in place next month.
Speaking to media earlier today, Amber McGrath, an organizer of Discontent City and member of Alliance Against Displacement, said there have been so many mixed messages that people remained confused and unsure of what is going on. She said communication from the city officials and politicians has been “atrocious.”
“Nobody really knows what is going on,” she said.
Discontent City residents have been given maps of Nanaimo, indicating where they can stay overnight.
Yesterday, Coun. Jerry Hong expressed similar concerns about communication, explaining that councillors were in the dark for the past few days. He also felt that B.C. Housing put the city in an “unfair” position by providing 170 units of housing, when there are more than 300 people at Discontent City.
“There is a huge communication gap that is still lacking,” Hong said yesterday.
-with files from Greg Sakaki/The News Bulletin