Officials move in on homeless camp on Lewis Street

Officials move in on homeless camp on Lewis Street

Occupants left with no place to live

Celestine Norris is scrambling to try to come up with money for a hotel after being evicted Thursday from a vacant lot on Lewis Street where she was living in a tent.

Norris has been living on the streets in the Cowichan Valley for more than a year, and in a tent on the vacant lot between two apartment buildings since October along with a small group of other homeless campers.

She said police and bylaw officers from the Municipality of North Cowichan came by on the morning of Dec. 14 and ordered her and all the other campers to dismantle their tents and vacate the premises.

“They were not harsh about it or anything, and they gave me lots of time to take down the tent and gather my things,” Norris said as she sorted through her belongings that were stuffed into garbage bags across the street from the vacant lot.

“I don’t know where I’ll go now. I was banned from the Warmland shelter but that has been lifted. But I have a dog now and pets aren’t allowed at Warmland. I’ll go to a hotel that allows dogs if I can get the money together.”

The small tent community on Lewis Street, which consisted of three tents as of Thursday, has been drawing the attention of neighbours, the RCMP and the Municipality of North Cowichan since homeless people began setting up their tents there a few months ago.

FOR RELATED STORY, CLICK HERE

The land is private property and North Cowichan officials had been unsuccessful in contacting its owner to address the issue of the trespassing campers, making efforts to remove the tents complicated.

But Nelda Richardson, North Cowichan’s manager of building and compliance, said the owner, who doesn’t live in the Valley, was finally contacted recently and began efforts to remove the campers.

“We can’t say who the owner is, but he did come here and placed ‘no trespassing’ signs around the property and began asking the campers that were there to leave,” Robertson said.

“But he felt intimidated and asked for us and the RCMP to help him, so we went on the property on Thursday and saw to it that the tents and the people left. We’ll now work with the property owner to secure the property, probably by fencing it.”

Robertson said there are no other tent communities currently in the municipality that are known by authorities, but officials recognize that homeless issues are a growing problem in the Valley.

“It’s very unfortunate that these tent communities exist at all,” she said.

“All we can do as a municipality is deal with these communities case by case and offer the campers the resources that are available to help them. That’s the best we can do.”

The Warmland House homeless shelter is nearby to the property on Lewis Street that was cleared on Thursday, but it doesn’t allow drugs or alcohol use on site, which is a problem for some who need its services.

Sara Proult, 21, had just recently started living in a tent on the Lewis Street property and has no idea what she’ll do know that she’s been evicted.

“I started doing drugs awhile ago and I can’t stop using,” she said while sitting on a sleeping bag on the edge of the property after her eviction.

“I tried programs to break my habit, but nothing works. I guess I’ll just continue to live on the streets.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

 

Officials move in on homeless camp on Lewis Street

Officials move in on homeless camp on Lewis Street

Just Posted

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

BCREA economists also predict home prices to increase by 14.3%

Most Read