Some of the metal items collected and sorted during Tuesday’s clean up of the homeless encampment off Comox Road. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela

Homeless encampment vacated following complaints of increasing garbage and crime

Crews arrived on scene Tuesday to complete the site’s clean up

The homeless camp off Comox Road – an area some have called home for the better part of a year – was quickly dismantled Tuesday as clean-up crews arrived on scene to remove the remaining items and garbage from the site.

The people who had been living on the land adjacent to Hollyhock Conservation Area and the Sewage Pump Station were given notice earlier in the month by the City of Courtenay to vacate the premises by 3:30 p.m. Monday.

READ MORE: Homeless camp at Courtenay estuary being evicted

The City provided temporary secure storage to the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness and their volunteers in order to store any possessions the campers wished to keep while they searched for another place to live. Everything that they could not take with them or no longer wanted was left at the site for Tuesday’s clean-up crew.

John Starchuk, manager of JOMA Environmental Ltd. the company in charge of the cleanup, says they found a little bit of everything on the site, including shampoos, lotions, scrap electronics and lots of propane tanks.

“Everything. Anything you’d see on the side of the road for free,” he said.

All that was left on the site was sorted and what could be recycled was set aside.

The one-day cleanup is estimated to cost $2,500.

READ MORE: Homeless encampments shine light on affordable housing issues in the Comox Valley

READ MORE: Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

JOMA Environmental Ltd. won a contract tender over a year ago to aid in the maintenance of the city’s bigger sites, like the land adjacent to the Field Sawmill site.

Over the winter, the business also came to the site once to do some cleanup and maintenance.

“We’ll come in and do our hazard assessment, look for needles and other threats to the environment and human health, and do our general cleaning,” said Starchuk. “We basically said anything you want to keep, pull it in, anything you don’t want, put it out and we’ll grab it. If they’re not sure what they want to keep or take then we just let them have their stuff.”

However, concern about the cleanliness and safety of the site began to build as more people began to set up camp near the pump station.

According to the City of Courtenay, bylaw had been aware of the camp since it was first set up and had been regularly visiting since last summer. The “tent city” first started as a small encampment closer to the water, but rising water levels over the winter forced them to move closer to the pump station and Comox Road.

The decision to vacate the people living on the property was made following concerns from the Comox Valley RCMP and others about the increasing amount of garbage on the site and increasingly hazardous conditions. The City cited additional reasons including reports of criminal activity and environmental concerns due to the proximity of the site to the estuary.

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells says the city had been monitoring the site for months but with growing criminal activity and rising concerns, vacating the site became necessary.

“At the end of the day, there’s more than one tent city and really part of it is looking to see how the encampment is going to unfold – is it going to be something that has a [negative] impact or not,” said Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells. “And I think in this case unfortunately that criminal element really did impact that particular site more than others. Obviously, it’s not ideal in any case but we’d rather not have to evict people.

“If it’s the criminal element we’re dealing with, sometimes a few people can ruin it for the many.”

Wells says affordable housing and addressing homelessness continues to be one of the City’s top priorities and coming up with solutions will involve a combined effort from municipal partners, the provincial and federal governments.


jolene.rudisuela@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

John Starchik, manager of JOMA Environmental Ltd. the company in charge of the clean up, says they found a little bit of everything on the site, including shampoos, lotions, scrap electronics and lots of propane tanks. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela

Just Posted

WITH VIDEO: Two endangered marmots released on Mount Washington

With three new pups born in May, two more Vancouver Island Marmots… Continue reading

Comox Archives and Museum makes presentation to d’Esterre Seniors’ Centre

At its June board meeting, Comox Archives and Museum board presented an… Continue reading

Annual Denman Island pancake breakfast coming up

Local fundraiser supports many initiatives

VIDEO: Miners Memorial graveside ceremony

For 34 years, the Cumberland Museum and Archives has presented Miners Memorial,… Continue reading

Having a day in the park

A temporary transmitting station is set up in Filberg Park in Comox… Continue reading

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Most Read