North Cowichan Counsellor Rosalie Sawrie works on assembling a picnic table in the homeless tenting compound. (Photo by Don Bodger)

North Cowichan Counsellor Rosalie Sawrie works on assembling a picnic table in the homeless tenting compound. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Resident concerns abundant over parking lot homeless tent site at Island arena

Theft, harm to nearby trails top of mind for those who lives nearby in Chemainus

The list of concerns is long among residents living in the vicinity of the homeless tenting site in the Fuller Lake Arena parking lot in Chemainus that was set up Tuesday afternoon in preparation for occupants Wednesday.

Individuals identified and nominated by the COVID-19 Vulnerable Population Cowichan Task Force were invited to self-isolate on the site, not anyone who is symptomatic or has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter circulated to nearby residents by the organization’s co-chair John Horn last Thursday afternoon.

“Emergency response sites like this one are a short-term solution to the COVID-19 pandemic until longer-term solutions can be found,” the letter from Horn went on to say. “BC Housing recognizes the urgent need and is committed to working with partners to develop permanent supportive housing in the region.”

There has not been a problem with COVID-19 in the homeless population within the Cowichan Valley to this point. When asked why this encampment is being set up now – two months after restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus went into place and conditions are just being relaxed – Horn admitted, “it is a bit funny in that sense.”

He said the organization was ready in April, but the money wasn’t there at the time.

The camp is only supposed to remain in place until the end of June – but could be extended – and with less than 12 people on the site.

“June 30 is the target date for closing these things,” Horn confirmed. “It seems we’re on a positive track. My sense is the June 30 deadline is probably a realistic deadline. I don’t see us having a second wave.”

Buller Street in Ladysmith is another site that’s been established, along with a couple of Duncan locations. Some of those haven’t gone up yet because residents in proximity still need to be notified.

There was initially going to be six to eight sites located in the area from Duncan to Ladysmith, but that’s been downscaled.

Horn conceded he’s received a lot of calls from people about the Fuller Lake camp – most concerning theft of property and use of trails that are adjacent to the site.

One resident of Fuller Lake Road, who asked not to be identified to avoid any possible retaliation, said their family has gone to great lengths to protect their property in advance of the encampment becoming operational.

“I can speak for our neighbours, ourselves,” she said. “We have all bought security cameras. We put in four cameras. They put in four next door and barbed wire. You’re going to get stolen from, for sure, and lock everything up. We pay taxes and we’re having to basically move out of our normal routine because they’re doing this.”

The resident said she understands this is happening everywhere, but “this is not a solution and it’s already established this is not a solution. They’ve tried this in other communities and it doesn’t work.

“I don’t believe the homeless are helpless. I believe it can happen to anyone. The choices they made after that is why they have no family or resources. They have alienated their personal support system.”

There are countless examples of trouble at numerous homeless sites, she said, including Nanaimo, the Victoria area where the city bought a hotel to house them and on the Lower Mainland in Oppenheimer Park.

“I don’t believe sprinkling pixie dust on Chemainus homeless makes them superior homeless people.”

Many have cited the isolated location as being ideal, but that doesn’t wash for the residents along Fuller Lake Road, Cottonwood Road and Crozier Road who are all too familiar with incidents from two drug houses in the vicinity.

“You can’t pick an isolated location further back and then give it to a community that doesn’t have any police,” the resident indicated.

Dedicated security will be on site from 10 p.m.-6 a.m., with rotating patrols during daytime hours when Horn conceded the campers are free to come and go as they please.

That sparks further concerns from residents about Fuller Lake Park which is a short walk away and kids swimming in the water during warmer days.

“Something that’s going to get thrown in the water is going to be there for them to step on,” said the resident.

“My concern is they’re going to ruin the beautiful trails and how are they going to clean it out after when they’ve left,” wondered another resident.

“This location doesn’t make any sense. It’s tucked away backing onto woods. During the day, you can’t contain them.”

The resident said just last year she started letting her young daughter walk to the lake. “Obviously, that’s not going to happen this year.”

CoronavirusHomeless

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

 

Quality tents have been up in the Fuller Lake Arena parking lot site for the homeless. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Quality tents have been up in the Fuller Lake Arena parking lot site for the homeless. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chris Robinson of Cowichan Neighbourhood House, part of the set-up team. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chris Robinson of Cowichan Neighbourhood House, part of the set-up team. (Photo by Don Bodger)

North Cowichan Mayor Al SIebring helps Chris Istace to put up a tent. (Photo by Don Bodger)

North Cowichan Mayor Al SIebring helps Chris Istace to put up a tent. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The complete enclosure for the homeless tenting site at Fuller Lake Arena. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The complete enclosure for the homeless tenting site at Fuller Lake Arena. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The view from the outside as volunteers work to put up tents on the inside. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The view from the outside as volunteers work to put up tents on the inside. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Security checks in at the homeless tenting site. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Security checks in at the homeless tenting site. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Just Posted

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth in police custody after kitchen knife call

A knife was recovered during the arrest, no injuries reported

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read