November 10, 2015 - 5:56 PM
'THIS IS MORE EXTREME THAN SOME OF THE ONES WE DEAL WITH'
KAMLOOPS – As bylaw officers and contractors descended on a homeless camp in downtown Kamloops and began removing truckloads of their belongings today, Nov. 10, seven people dressed in dirty winter clothes walked out with all the bags and bedding they could carry.
One young woman struggled to wheel a shopping basket as she awkwardly carried her things away. Camp dweller 'Dan' said he and his friends now have nowhere to go. His eyes were red and his voice broke as he explained most of his possessions were now gone.
“They took a $200 tent. And that sucks because most of us only get like $236 a month in welfare money,” he said, adding he took what he could carry out of the camp on his back.
Both Dan and fellow camper Jay said they were not given notice the camp would be dismantled but City of Kamloops bylaws spokesperson Jon Wilson said that's not true. He said they were warned yesterday and earlier this morning. He also said some of the items can be retrieved later.
“Our practice is when there is salvageable tents or personal items identified… that it’s collected and taken back to the office. They have up to two weeks to retrieve it,” Wilson said.
Homeless Camp Pioneer Park
Bylaw officers escort iN reporters through a homeless camp near Pioneer Park. Half the camp had already been removed.http://infotel.ca/newsitem/downtown-homeless-camp-disassembled-belongings-removed/it24872
Posted by InfoNews Kamloops on Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The camp, in Pioneer Park, was discovered roughly five days ago, near the tennis courts between a walking trail frequented by joggers and dog walkers. Just down a steep incline, blue tarps were strung between tree limbs and over layers of blankets and sleeping bags, even a dug out fire pit in the centre.
“This is more extreme than some of the ones we deal with,” Wilson says.
Bylaw officers barred reporters from accessing the site in a public park, initially claiming it was a safety risk. That risk disappeared when Wilson, himself, appeared on site and led them down. He suggested most of the items found there were stolen. Contractors in yellow reflective vests hauled out bags of clothing, shopping carts, bins, a wheelbarrow and no shortage of needles. Contractors filled up two pick-up trucks with roughly half the camp still to dissassemble.
“It’s not that we don’t allow them to set up overnight temporary shelter, it’s that in the morning they need to pack it up and remove it,” Wilson says.
- With files from Glynn Brothen
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015