The city brought in heavy equipment Monday to clear tents and accumulated debris from the site that was Discontent City. Most, but not all, residents have been provided supportive housing. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

The city brought in heavy equipment Monday to clear tents and accumulated debris from the site that was Discontent City. Most, but not all, residents have been provided supportive housing. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo’s Discontent City bulldozed

No access to the site allowed as crews clean up what was a homeless village on the waterfront

Backhoes, city workers and police moved in Monday morning to disassemble Discontent City.

The downtown Nanaimo homeless camp has seen most of its residents moved to temporary supportive housing on Terminal Avenue and Labieux Road as the former tent city site was sealed off to all but city workers and police. Anyone else entering could be arrested for trespassing and police did arrest one person who entered the property.

RCMP Insp. Lisa Fletcher, one of the police officers overseeing the operation, said she considered just a single arrest a success by the city working with the community.

While the majority of residents have found city-sanctioned shelter, others who were not awarded space in supportive housing pitched tents, at least temporarily, on the outer perimeter of 1 Port Drive while they contemplated where they could go.

However, time to move on is growing short for those camped outside the former tent city site. Dave Laberge, city manager of community safety, said encampments outside the fence at 1 Port Drive would also be cleared by the city, but did not say how soon.

Damian Gallant, 24, and Elissa Fawdry, 17, were among those not awarded temporary housing. Their possessions were stacked in Rubbermaid containers next to the fence as they contemplated their next move. Fawdry said it’s likely they were not provided housing because at 17 she’s a minor. The couple had been living at Discontent City for about three and a half months. Fawdry said they lost their last rental unity on Haliburton Street when their landlord sold her property.

“We have all our stuff here and we don’t know where to go,” Gallant said. “We just couldn’t find any affordable housing.”

Dominic Flanagan, executive director of B.C. Housing, said on the first day of move-ins at the Labieux site, Nov. 30, that everybody who was at Discontent City experiencing homelessness would be offered housing or a shelter space.

“We recognize that more work needs to be done,” he said. “And as the homeless count showed, the number of people who are experiencing homelessness here in Nanaimo well exceeds 300. So we need to do more. [Temporary supportive housing] is an important, significant first step, but the work continues.”

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said at a press conference Monday that if people insisted on staying at the Discontent City site they could be arrested.

“Obviously if people insist on staying at that site, there is a court order and I expect the RCMP to enforce the court order and hopefully it won’t come to that,” he said.

“The other reality is there are people sleeping in our parks around this community, sleeping in wooded areas, literally camping through the winter. The good news, as everyone knows, further shelter beds at St. Peters Catholic Church, that will be helpful … Shelter beds are a help, but they are not a house. They are not a home.”

Kevin Gartner is one of the residents who has been provided housing and is happy with the way the city has handled Discontent City.

“This sets some sort of precedence for the homeless, I think, so we should see some good things right across Canada, right?” Gartner said. “I was here for about three or four months and they fed us and did everything they could.”

According to B.C. Housing, 155 people experiencing homelessness have been able to move into temporary supportive housing at Labieux and at Terminal Avenue.

Just Posted

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read