Discontent City closed to outsiders, cleanup begins

By Spencer Sterritt
October 26, 2018 - 6:16pm Updated: October 29, 2018 - 9:35am

Many conditions included in a Supreme Court of B.C. ruling about Discontent City are now in effect at the camp, which is much more organized and calm than it has been in recent months.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

Though cleaning crews were at Discontent City all Friday, they'll have to return the week of Oct. 29 since much garbage and illegal structures around tents remain.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

Enforcement of a provincial fire order started at 9 a.m. on Friday and removing all dangerous items is expected to take several days.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — Anyone staying at downtown Nanaimo's Discontent City will have to prove they belong there, though it's unclear who's manning the gates. 

A provincial order came into effect Friday, Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. requiring anyone remaining at the tent city must have applied for the provincially-funded housing planned to come online at the end of November. As of 9 a.m. on Friday, all fire safety hazards were to also be removed. 

Many of the residents NanaimoNewsNOW talked to on Friday said they'd applied for the housing and were anxious to leave the sprawling camp which first opened in May. 

BC Housing couldn't confirm how many applied for the housing, but NanaimoNewsNOW heard at the scene roughly 120 applications were accepted. 

However, there's currently little in the way of enforcement for the provincial order. 

After 5 p.m. on Friday, NanaimoNewsNOW filmed a walkthrough of the camp and wasn't asked to prove why we were there. At the same time, a car pulled right onto the property.

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Two provincially-funded security guards will patrol the site 24/7, but won't be manning the gate and checking identification for those coming and going. 

Despite the cleanup and the enforcement of a provincial order, it was relatively calm at Discontent City. 

NanaimoNewsNOW heard from many residents any agitators or those who weren't going to apply for the provincial housing left earlier in the week when service groups arrived to start sorting through the roughly 300 people who lived there. 

Only one spat was seen around 4:25 p.m. when a man protested why the wood used to hold up his structure was being taken away and dumped into a bin. Some brief shouting followed and the man threw his hammer at his tent in anger, but quickly calmed down and staff went back to cleaning the area. 

After the cleaning, the site at 1 Port. Dr. looked very different in many subtle ways. A substantial amount of garbage was removed from the camp on Friday, hauled away in 30-yard refuse bins. 

Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief Karen Fry told NanaimoNewsNOW crews would likely return early next week to finish gathering whatever couldn't be collected. 

She said it's hoped the relatively clean condition of the camp after Friday will remain.

"Hopefully they manage to take this initiative and keep their site a little cleaner in this next month," Fry said. "Once this camp is totally disbanded, we're going to need to come in and totally clean the site right up. That will be in a longer plan a little later, probably towards the beginning of December." 

Fry said they'll keep a close eye on the site until it's shut down on Nov. 30, regardless of whether the provincial housing is operational or not. 


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