HIGH-PROFILE CAMPING: Daniel Farmer has been camping under an old willow tree on a parcel of high-profile

HIGH-PROFILE CAMPING: Daniel Farmer has been camping under an old willow tree on a parcel of high-profile

EDITORIAL: Daniel’s story

Man who is camping on high-profile land in downtown Parksville brings focus to homelessness issue here

Daniel Farmer would enjoy having a more traditional place to lay his head at night.

For now, he’s thankful for the large, old willow tree on city-owned property at the corner of Jensen Avenue and the Alberni Highway. He’s also grateful for the tent provided to him by the Manna Homeless Society.

It’s a high-profile parcel of downtown land, Daniel’s new front yard. It was the subject of talk during last year’s municipal elections and city politicians keep saying they are going to do something exciting with it. Honest. After a few taxpayer-funded studies.

It seems Daniel Farmer is the first person to actually do something useful with the prized lot. While the city talks about studies, Daniel gives thanks to the “old grandfather,” the willow that protects him from the weather.

We spoke with Daniel last week. We were hesitant to make any calls to officialdom about the situation, not wanting to be the cause of his eviction.

He wants to work. He did have a job, but he says he was dismissed the same day he came clean about the fact he has a brain injury and other medical challenges. He was articulate and polite when we spoke with him.

Daniel first tried to set up his tent in the estuary of the Englishman River. He says he was, ahem, escorted out of there by police who explained to him it was a protected area. The birds and the fish and the plants, you see, take precedence over humans in that particular area of our city. Daniel has seemingly done all the right things to find work and a place to live. He’s been in contact with the SOS and the local task force on homelessness. He’s on a waiting list for somewhere safe to live.

For people on the margins of society, there’s always a waiting list.

For people on the margins of society, challenges are presented hour by hour. What to eat? Where to sleep? Is someone going to steal my meagre possessions? What will I do while I wait for six weeks to get into that subsidized apartment?

As far as the enforcement of its bylaws is concerned, the city says it only reacts to complaints. There have been no complaints about Daniel. Considering what happened in camps of people living on city-owned land in Victoria and Vancouver, it’s likely Parksville city hall could not force Daniel to move.

There is nowhere for Daniel to go.

Perhaps a man under a willow tree, on a high-profile corner in this affluent part of the world, personifies what’s wrong with how we deal with the people on the margins of society. Perhaps Daniel’s story will help us all realize homelessness is a real issue, even in an idyllic seaside resort town. — Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue logo on the back of a service vehicle. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville and Qualicum Beach provide letters of support for Arrowsmith Search and Rescue

ASAR asks for increase in funding, one-time capital grant and for RDN to buy out current facility

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

The total earnings of Town of Qualicum Beach council and mayor amounted to $186,649 in 2020, including expenses. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Nine Qualicum Beach town employees earned more than $100K in 2020

Mayor and council received earnings totalling $186,649

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Websit back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbourhood on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Most Read