A Notice to Vacate will be coming in the near future to the encampment at 2600 Quinsam Rd., Campbell River RCMP and the Coalition to End Homelessness confirm.
Though neither group could confirm when the order would be carried out, residents will have one week after the notice to vacate the premises. Since the area in question falls on Crown Land, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development have jurisdiction and will be serving the notice.
“A notice to vacate is being issued, and that’s based on a bunch of different reasons. Have there been several complaints to the RCMP regarding that property? Yes, there have been and there has definitely been interest in that property for various different reasons,” said RCMP Const. Maury Tyre. “When it comes down to it, there have been reports of domestic assaults out there, we’ve found stolen property out there, we’ve found kids that are listed as missing intoxicated out there and from a risk management standpoint, unfortunately, it’s a location that did have some issues.”
The encampment, set up across from the old shooting range on Quinsam Road, is home to around 20 people who will have to find a new place to camp after the notice is served. Under the terms of the order, anyone staying in or returning to the area will be considered trespassing.
“Understandably for some of the folks, maybe they expected to be able to stay there for a longer period of time and the reality is that that’s not sustainable,” Tyre said. “I think it’s like anything, people are just trying to survive the best way they know-how and in this case it’s not a sustainable option.”
Residents have been notified about an option to camp at Nunn’s Creek Park; however, since the park is in the city limits, the rules about camping there will be different.
“The people who are encamped there will be given the option to move their camping equipment and their sites to Nunn’s Creek Park, which is still operating under the bylaw that they must pack up all of their belongings and vacate every morning by 9 a.m,” said Sue Moen, one of the leadership team of the Coalition. “Right now, the way it is, the bylaw is written and enforced so that if they can’t pack their stuff up, bylaw will sometimes pack it up and take it away, so they lose all their stuff. These are people who have nothing except their camping stuff. That leaves them even more exposed and vulnerable.”
The Coalition to End Homelessness has asked the city to relax that portion of the bylaw. Moen said the leadership team was going to ask community members and businesses for letters of support for the request. The Nunn’s Creek location is far enough away from downtown that allowing people to live there until more permanent housing is available fits in well with the city’s priority to work on issues in the downtown core, Moen explained.
“There is anxiety amongst the people who are already in town, and certainly the people who are staying where they are don’t believe they have any other options,” she said. Since most services are in the downtown area, if people have to remove their things every morning it would make more sense for them to stay close to services. In allowing them to have semi-permanent campsites, it makes people more likely to feel secure and only come into the downtown area when they need to.
“If the city keeps the bathrooms open, which they had committed to do, then at least there are some hygiene facilities for them. For the most part they take turns or they just come in to access a meal. Because their stuff is all there, they tend to just hang around with their stuff. If they can’t leave their stuff there, they’ve got to pull it in, so they might as well be downtown,” Moen said.
Being closer to town would allow people to have better access to the upcoming housing projects, as well as other services.
“At that point, it’ll take some time, but there’s the new housing projects and when they’re complete, the people will be encouraged to apply for some of these options,” Tyre said.
“Although it’s not an ideal situation, this is a group of people that have made what efforts they can to be self-sufficient,” Moen added. “The services, the beds and the shelter doesn’t exist for them in town as it is, so I hope that everybody involved will look at alternate avenues of action to see if we can support them either out there and support the residents to make it comfortable and safe for everybody, or at least [make an] exception to the bylaw here so that we aren’t adding to their insecurity.”