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Operation cleans up homeless camp in Campbell River’s Nunns Creek Park

Individuals are permitted to remain sheltering on site, provided they follow certain criteria

A clean up operation was implemented in Campbell River’s Nunns Creek Park Wednesday, Nov. 8, home of a longstanding encampment of unhoused people.

No details of the operation were released publicly ahead of time but equipment and high-vis clad personnel hauled out camping gear, propane tanks, shopping carts and other structural pieces from the woods on the other side of a former BMX track that had been cleared a number of years ago for a sanctioned encampment. That sanctioned encampment never did go ahead but the park continued to be a location for unhoused people to camp further in the woods.

In recent years, complaints of drug use, trafficking, fire hazards and garbage in the park have escalated. Campbell River city council has identified cleaning up the illegal activity surrounding homelessness and drug addiction in the city’s downtown and elsewhere as a priority issue. Nunns Creek Park is located on the edge of the city’s downtown.

City manager Elle Brovold said the operation “was organized as a typical encampment clean up, which is facilitated by our Bylaw department. The work today included; City staff from Bylaw and Operations, RCMP and community organizations involved in providing services for the under/unhoused people of the community.”

The camp clean up was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Bylaw staff visited the property last week and provided notice to camp occupants that “the cleanup will entail the removal of all garbage, as well as downsizing any camps that are larger than 10ft x 10ft (3m x 3m) and confirming the spacing between each of the camps is at least 20ft (6m). Items and materials not conforming to requirements will be removed. Belongings that are required to be removed will be stored for 30 days at a secure city facility. If unclaimed the items will be disposed of.”

A resident of the neighbouring mobile home park was at the scene of the clean up this morning and was happy to see it.

“This is what happens when you have unsupervised camping,” Sheila Keats said. “You have drug dealing, you have gunshots, you have illegal cutting of trees in Nunn’s Creek Park. You have chemically-burned smoke from chemically-treated pallets. You have smoke going into nearby residences, you have screaming in the night, you have partying in the night, you have garbage piling up to the point we have bears coming through our park. This is all a result of unsupervised camping, it needs to stop.”

Following the cleanup, the individuals are permitted to remain sheltering on site, provided they meet the size and spacing requirements.

This is the current location in the city that has been designated to permit overnight camping.

“The city is very aware of the concerns related to encampments in and around this area and is spending considerable efforts to explore options to meet council’s strategic objective of a healthy and safe community,” Brovold said. “Additionally, I will note that the city has been advocating to the province/BC Housing for funding for a low barrier, temporary housing solutions to address encampments and assist vulnerable populations and unhoused individuals.”

Additional information can be found on the city’s website at www.campbellriver.ca/downtownsafety.

Campbell River RCMP said in a request for information that the operation was run by the city and the police were there to keep the peace and ensure the safety of all parties.

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Alistair Taylor

About the Author: Alistair Taylor

I have been editor of the Campbell River Mirror since 1989. Our team takes great pride in serving our community.
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