City crews have started clearing trash from the Discontent City homeless camp, as a court-imposed deadline comes into effect at day’s end today for all residents except the ones expecting to move into supportive housing. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo beginning to clear out its tent city homeless camp

It’s move-out day for some of the residents of Discontent City in downtown Nanaimo

It’s move-out day for some of the residents of Nanaimo’s Discontent City.

A court-imposed deadline comes into effect at 5 p.m. today, Oct. 26, for everyone to vacate the tent city homeless camp except those who are expecting to move into supportive housing in the coming weeks.

City crews are at Discontent City this morning enforcing a fire safety order, said Karen Fry, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief and the city’s director of public safety.

Clearing of trash piles is currently happening and Nanaimo RCMP and firefighters are on scene.

“We have work crews on site with the assistance of B.C. Housing,” said Fry. “A lot of the occupants of the tent city have been really helping us today and we really appreciate that. But we’re going to try to make this as safe as possible for those occupants.”

The fire chief mentioned an incident yesterday, in which a resident of the camp suffered burns and lost her possessions in a tent fire.

“We need to make sure that we can stop it from spreading if we do have fires down here and to reduce the risk as much as possible,” Fry said.

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Last week, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ronald Skolrood decided that the homeless camp could remain until Nov. 30, with conditions. After today, no vehicles, trailers or structures will be allowed at the 1 Port Drive property, no one under 19 years old can visit, and there must be compliance with a fire safety order. After today, camp residents may have to provide identification to come and go.

Val Sampson, from Ladysmith, who has lived with her son at the tent city since it opened, said she was glad about the cleanup work the city was conducting.

“I’m happy [with] what they’re doing,” Sampson said. “It’s a little embarrassing, though … Look at all the mess, you know. A lot of them’s not taking care of their surroundings. We’re trying, you know, but it’s still dangerous around here, but I’m happy with what they’re doing. I can’t wait to get out of here.”

Sampson said she and her son have been homeless for almost one year and she would accept supportive housing if it becomes available.

“I have no choice. I can’t really afford it,” she said. “Me and my son, we’ve been looking for about a year … I can’t wait.”

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Feel compassion for those who are outside in the cold

RELATED: Discontent City costs exceed $100,000

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