NANAIMO — There was no police action at downtown Nanaimo's tent city after a 72 hour eviction notice came and went, but officers will soon ticket the homeless living at Discontent City.
Mayor Bill McKay said the City and Nanaimo RCMP had no intention of ticketing or evicting the homeless currently living at 1 Port Dr. across from the Port Place Shopping Centre Tuesday morning. Eviction notices were handed out on Friday, May 25, roughly a week after the camp was established, and were promptly ignored.
“We're not looking for a confrontation,” McKay told NanaimoNewsNOW. “We would much rather try to come up with solutions.”
He said if the officers and tickets are also ignored, the City will go to the Supreme Court of B.C. to start the injunction process against the camp.
He claimed organizers hadn't reached out to the City to discuss affordable housing solutions in Nanaimo before starting the second tent city in as many months.
“Why don't we start having a communication and start talking?” he asked. “Let's extend a hand, let the other folks accept the hand and as a giving society let's start working together.”
On the ground at Discontent City Tuesday morning, supporter and organizer Kevin Donaghy said the homeless have worked together as a community to help themselves.
“Discontent City is here to stay,” he said among a crowd of roughly 100 people holding signs and preparing for police action which never arrived.
An injunction against Discontent City was expected since the beginning. Donaghy said their legal response will draw from the local homeless to show the courts how difficult it is to live on the street or in cars around Nanaimo.
As the case works its way through the courts, Donaghy said the tent city will likely grow as more of Nanaimo's homeless realize it's a place to call home.
“There are hundreds of people still living on the street in Nanaimo, from the north to south end. But I think those people are probably closely watching the ground here at Discontent City and thinking 'Okay, they're past that period where it could be ripped away.'”
The tent city will grow under the watchful eyes of many Nanaimo residents.
Dozens of people gathered on the second floor of the Port Place Shopping Centre parkade to watch the rally on Tuesday. Calls of “get a job” and the occasional middle finger were seen, especially when a small shouting match broke out among the watchers and a group of supporters down below.
Mayor McKay said regardless of how Discontent City is handled or develops in coming weeks, Nanaimo residents need to keep their wits and reason about them.
“Understand we need to show empathy and compassion for those who find themselves in this very unfortunate and frightening circumstance,” he said. “As a society we have to do better. So let's sit down and start having these very difficult conversations.”
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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