On Monday morning (Nov. 9) people who had been camping in Mark’s Nature Park in Parksville were told to pack up and move on.
City bylaw officials cleared out the park at approximately 10 a.m., with some people experiencing homelessness left to leave and take only what they could carry with them. Several campers in the park were upset with the process and felt the bylaw officers were “acting with aggression.”
Notice had been given by means of a laminated sign posted on Nov. 3 that said, “City of Parksville staff will be conducting a clean up of the area on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, at 10 a.m. Please be advised that all occupants and their belongings will be required to be removed from the park by 10 a.m. Any belongings left in the area after this time will be considered as abandoned and will be disposed of accordingly.”
Deb Tardiff, manager of communications for the city, said “it was a co-ordinated service city cleanup. People did what they were supposed to do.”
Mark Russell, a Parksville resident, said he’s been visiting Mark’s Nature Park daily for the past three weeks, providing hot chocolate and other items for people in need of warmth. What he has seen has “truly disturbed” him.
“I’ve seen bylaw officers tell people to take down their tents in the mud on a rainy morning,” he said.
Darcy, who’s been camping at Mark’s Nature Park for several weeks, claimed he was told he wasn’t allowed to keep an umbrella because it was too big.
“So I’ve been wet and cold.”
He said the city has removed his possessions from him by means of ‘the clean up’ 47 times. His brother, Dean, claimed “when it’s impossible to do it in the timeline that they require, they will take your stuff.”
Tardiff said Mark’s Nature Park is an area that police and bylaw officials watch daily, and it was made clear that the only thing they could have with them is a tent and what they can carry. She said there were three truckloads of refuse removed Monday morning, and it took “the better part of three hours” to complete the cleanup.
“We get complaints all the time. People have concerns about the park, about the camping,” she said. “Sometimes there won’t be anybody there, and then all of a sudden some campers move in and it’s really hard to get them to move.”