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Two more burned in three days as port-a-pottie abuse plagues downtown Nanaimo

Neighbourhood association says it’s ‘scary’ that so many fires are being set in the area
A port-a-potty fire melted by a fire Sunday, Jan. 16, on Shaw Lane. (Photo courtesy Kevan Shaw)

The city keeps putting out port-a-potties and antisocial people in Nanaimo’s downtown keep burning them.

Two more port-a-potties were destroyed by fires in a three-day span last week, Jan. 16-18, on Shaw Lane off of Terminal Avenue.

“Ever since port-a-potties have been placed by the city in our area, all of the businesses and property owners have noticed a big increase in crime around them,” said Kevan Shaw, president of the Victoria Crescent Association. “It’s been a magnet. It’s been a draw.”

He said the installation of the port-a-potties during the pandemic hasn’t had an effect in limiting human waste around the downtown.

“Businesses have still been seeing a lot of feces in their alcoves, in their doorways, and quite disgustingly, even smeared and sprayed on their windows,” Shaw said.

He said six port-a-potties have been burned just this winter, while Dave LaBerge, city manager of bylaw services and community safety said at least six have been burned during the pandemic.

After two burned in three days this week, LaBerge was asked if the city was looking at changing its approach around provision of port-a-potties.

“No decision has made at this time as it is recognized that COVID restrictions and the closure of facilities which previously provided access to sanitation services has created additional hardships for unsheltered people in the community,” he said in an e-mail. “However, in the short term our contractor does not have available inventory to replace the two portable toilets that were recently destroyed.”

Shaw said the fires being set around the downtown are “scary” for business and property owners because of the potential for the fires to spread. He expressed hope that the provincial government will set up more complex care centres to try to address the mental health and addictions issues Nanaimo faces.

READ ALSO: More than 20 fires set in downtown Nanaimo in three months

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