Officials tear down a makeshift shelter protesters and campers made that surrounded the wooden gazebo at Roger Creek Park on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Officials tear down a makeshift shelter protesters and campers made that surrounded the wooden gazebo at Roger Creek Park on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Port Alberni tent city evicted again

Campers took over gazebo at Roger Creek Park

For the second time in a week, a tent city that started as a protest against the Port Alberni Shelter Society has been evicted—this time from Roger Creek Park.

Gaylene Thorogood, Port Alberni’s manager of community safety, said the protesters and campers were given two verbal warnings on Wednesday and Thursday, and two people were issued trespass notices by hand on Thursday afternoon. She said a bylaw officer had twice let campers know they were not permitted to camp overnight in the city-owned park, and that tarping the gazebo and lighting propane firepits inside the gazebo were fire hazards.

“There were six people in there at the time,” she said.

RELATED: Port Alberni ‘tent city’ campers evicted from Island Health property

RELATED: Shelter protest organizer arrested, released in Port Alberni

Outreach workers with Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) arrived and offered three of the people who stuck around hotel rooms, but all rooms were declined, Thorogood said. “At this point we thought they were probably not going to leave and camp overnight. It’s a wooden structure so I feel there was a safety concern there, especially when they had an alternate place offered to them.”

At 5 p.m. city officials arrived and told campers they had to leave. Furthermore, the trespass notices said they cannot return to the park for 30 days.

Graham Hughes, who organized the tent city, said everything was torn down and put into a small garbage truck, including Naloxone kits that were clearly labeled in a tote with other hygiene products; new butane fires and cots; and propane tanks for the old propane fire pits.

Thorogood said campers were given ample notice that the camp would be dismantled if they didn’t leave. “They were told earlier to pick up their belongings and go. We had said we would come back and take this down.”

Hughes said the people who had been camping in Roger Creek Park scattered; he and others spent the weekend trying to find people to account for them and ensure they were still safe.

Some of the campers’ belongings were returned to Hughes and volunteers on Monday afternoon, but Hughes said nothing much was salvageable. “I think they just made someone pull it out of the garbage,” he posted on social media.

Hughes and almost two dozen volunteers gathered late Friday and Saturday nights to patrol the back alleys and parks of Port Alberni seeking out those sleeping outdoors to hand out food and Naloxone kits. He said in a way, his efforts to bring attention to the plight of the city’s homeless and how they are dealt with have come full circle.

“When we started this whole thing (in mid-October) a small group of us started doing outreach at night,” he said. He and fellow election candidates Helen Poon and Evan Jolicoeur were joined by other community members, and donations of food, clothing and Naloxone kits were distributed to people sleeping rough in alleys.

Hughes said he intends to keep advocating for the city’s vulnerable population—although he is keeping quiet about whether another tent city will be formed.

“Just letting people know we’re not giving up on them. We just can’t abandon the people. Everyone on the streets are fighting the fight but they burn out. We’re still fighting the fight and we’re still here.”

Hughes said it will take unity from all fronts to solve Port Alberni’s homeless issue.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said the city has been working with PASS and BC Housing to open the old shelter. Minions said the new shelter beds must be filled before the emergency beds at the old shelter can be utilized.

“Occupancy varies but the shelter had seven bed unused (Nov. 17),” as an example. There are 12 beds in the old shelter and it can be open on short notice. “It has been activated two or three times this year since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” she added.

Minions said several people who were previously on the banned list “have been given another chance and are now permitted in.” She added that if there are people who still feel like they are not able to access the available shelter beds “we’d like to connect with them to be able to personally facilitate conversations to arrange a plan to gain access back or alternative options.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Housing and HomelessnessPORT ALBERNI

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Officials tear down a makeshift shelter protesters and campers made that surrounded the timbered gazebo at Roger Creek Park on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Officials tear down a makeshift shelter protesters and campers made that surrounded the timbered gazebo at Roger Creek Park on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Just Posted

The intersection at Moilliet Street and Despard Avenue where a 12-year-old boy was struck by an oncoming vehicle early November while crossing at a marked crosswalk. (Mandy Moraes photo)
City staff members, school district officials to discuss high-traffic Parksville intersection

Young boy suffered broken leg after being hit in Despard/Moilliet crossing

An acre of the former ‘Bus Garage’ property has been sold to Naked Naturals Whole Foods Ltd. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Qualicum Beach sells prime downtown property to Naked Naturals for $2.75M

Town to retain more than an acre of land for development of public amenities

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Parksville area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Concerned Island school bus driver says people still pass while red lights flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Most Read