From left: Shady Maples mobile home park residents (implementing social distancing) Courtney Michl (manager), Sheila Keats, Pam Fry and Dave Fry were upset with the City of Campbell River’s plan to create a campsite for homeless people on a vacant lot near the park. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

The City of Campbell River has cancelled plans to establish a campsite for people experiencing homelessness in the city and will instead explore an alternative option to support people experiencing homelessness in Campbell River.

“With minimizing the threat of this virus as our top priority, we continue to review options and opportunities to be as responsive as possible,” says Mayor Andy Adams. “This is a quickly evolving and constantly changing situation, and council were advised as of late yesterday afternoon that there is a promising alternative that could better address public health and security needs. After thorough deliberation at last night’s meeting, council has decided to explore another option that is more cost-effective and offers greater opportunity for meeting objectives to support the most vulnerable members of our community.”

RELATED: Campbell River converting unused BMX track into temporary homeless campsite

The city is actively working to confirm details and timing.

“Our goal is to provide more information and support for people experiencing homelessness as quickly as possible, but discussions are preliminary right now, and a number of details are yet to be confirmed. As soon as more information is available, we will share that with the community,” says city manager Deborah Sargent.

The city announced on May 15 that it was going to convert the Homewood Road lot that had been cleared and developed years ago as a BMX track but which was never used. The city was moving ahead with this plan as early as Monday when equipment began clearing the lot.

Residents of a nearby mobile home park and adjacent businesses had written to council strongly objecting to the plan.

The owner of the mobile home park and some of the tenants have written to the city raising their concerns.

“Over the long weekend rumours began circulating within the neighbourhood (Campbellton area) of a campsite to be erected by the city for the homeless, on the unused BMX land on Homewood Road,” Shady Maples resident Sheila Keats said in a letter to the Campbell River Mirror. She added it was “a great shock and upset to the neighbourhood, as it turned out these rumours [were] indeed a reality.

“Approximately 125 seniors living across the street from the proposed site are anxious. This news blindsided everyone. We were not consulted. Meetings were not held.”

Matthew Li, owner of Shady Maples Ventures Ltd., said in a letter to city council that his tenants’ “safety concerns have been expressed directly to you through letters from some of our residents and will be augmented by a petition which is now being circulated to gather names and concerns.”

But he also says, “during COVID-19 we have seen the provincial government work with the cities of Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo to eliminate the tent cities in those communities and move the affected homeless to available hotel/motel accommodation. How does the City of Campbell River justify going in the opposite direction and creating a tent city? Is there no available space at the city’s hotels and motels, which will all be suffering lost business due to COVID-19? Were these issues canvassed by staff in formulating a recommendation to Council?”

The situation is a rapidly-changing one, the mayor said.

“This change of plans demonstrates the city’s responsiveness in a fast-changing situation, and the power of partnership to pull together and continue to pursue options that address community concerns and support members of our vulnerable population,” the Mayor adds.

The city will continue to enforce municipal bylaws, including prohibiting public nuisance and camping in environmentally-sensitive areas. People wishing to report concerns are encouraged to contact the RCMP or the City’s bylaw enforcement department.


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverCoronavirusHomelessness

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

Just Posted

Frustration grows in Ucluelet as locked gate puts school garden in peril

“You walk by there and it’s just dead. Everything’s dry and yelling for water,” Liisa Nielsen said.

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Ucluelet fire crew extinguishes residential blaze

Ucluelet’s fire chief is praising his crew for making short work of a residential blaze on Tuesday.

DFO reports unusually high whale mortalities in 2020

“It’s so important to have all these eyes and ears in the community reporting these deaths.”

Tofino housing project criticized at public hearing

Town’s council hosts first public hearing since start of COVID-19 pandemic.

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Pay cuts, seating charts, COVID screening: How one B.C. venue is bringing back concerts

A growing number of bars and restaurants are welcoming back musicians under COVID-19 precautions

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Most Read