Nelson Council Discusses Management of Encampments

Nelson City-Hall

A recent update to Nelson City Council on local vulnerable populations sparked discussions on managing encampments, especially as winter draws near.

People sheltering in the Edgewood Avenue area were asked to move elsewhere when neighbour concerns grew, but since then activity in places like the Government Road encampment has gone up.

Councillor Rik Logtenberg hopes to improve quality of life for those involved:

“I personally would be okay with investing a little bit to provide some clean-ups, some organization or whatever because it can be pretty bad…. As a part of trying to establish norms and wrestle this problem from the side of the broader public good, it would be great if we could do more to make certainly Government Road at least a little bit more livable.”

Mayor Janice Morrison says it isn’t just those that live in the encampment that add to the clutter:

“Government Road also suffers from good Samaritans who probably don’t want to turn left and actually take their trash to treasures to the appropriate location and I think they’re doing a world of good for homeless people by dropping off old mattresses, I mean no homeless person is packing a mattress on their back to there but you see that there….  There have been what I consider, people that consider themselves I guess good Samaritans dropping some stuff off there that then becomes something that the City goes in and cleans up.”

Community Planning, Climate and Infrastructure General Manager Chris Johnson says another clean-up event is being planned to deal with garbage on site:

“We’ve heard…. had a report from the folks there that a contractor actually pulled up, dumped out the old freezer that’s there, and the box spring and mattress and just a bunch of junk that they didn’t want to pay for out at the transfer station…. We’ve just started the discussion about the next steps and we think that it’s going to be a clean-up at Government Road.”

The Mayor says Government Road has already been cleaned two or three times this summer and one City Councillor suggests scheduled garbage collection services as a proactive measure.

Councillor Jesse Woodward says the pandemic highlighted a need for a permanent fix:

“Out of all that came ‘this is not a suitable place to have people live through the winter’ I mean…. heavy snow plowing goes on there, it’s super cold, wet, it’s not accessible for emergency services to you know park a fire truck there.”

Officials generally agreed that until a permanent solution is found consistently managing the community encampments is the next best action they can take.