Parksville had homeless people pitching tents earlier in 2019. — File photo

RDN officials discuss measures to avoid potential tent cities

Proposed bylaw would limit times for camping in parks

Regional District of Nanaimo officials have discussed measures to keep campers from building a large tent city in regional and community parks.

At the RDN’s regional parks and trails select committee meeting on Nov. 5, staff proposed a new bylaw that will allow people to only pitch tents in district parks overnight, from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.

It would only be limited to areas within parks to ensure designated conservation areas, facilities, trails, parking areas, playgrounds and neighbouring residential properties will not be impacted.

READ ON: Qualicum Beach requires more attention from town’s only bylaw officer

In District 69, parks considered off limits include Es-hw Sments Park and Beachcomber Park in Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay); Columbia Drive Park, Neden Way Park and Little Qualicum Estuary in Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River); and Henry Morgan Park in Electoral Area H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay).

As well, the proposed bylaw will also deal with a total smoking/vaping ban; cannabis consumption; off-road vehicle use; electric bicycle use; and aligns RDN fees for camping and special-use events with rates comparable to those in other B.C. parks. An extra bylaw enforcement officer would be hired that would cost approximately $44,000 a year.

In drafting the recommendation, staff investigated other jurisdictions’ park use regulation bylaws to ensure that it meets best practices, aligns with federal and provincial laws, and that it is relevant to the needs of residents and guests of the RDN.

Several municipalities and regional districts in recent years updated bylaws to deal with homeless camping in parks. They include Abbotsford, the District of North Cowichan and Nanaimo.

A motion was made to refer the proposed bylaw back to staff for further review and to work closely with each electoral area directors on the proposed list of prohibited parks. A report will be presented to the committee again on Feb.4.

If adopted, the new bylaw will be applied to all regional and community parks and trails in the RDN.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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