A delegation from the Campbell River Salmon Festival show the state of the burling pond at Nunns Creek Park during a city council meeting.

Photo Credit: City of Campbell River

Nunns Creek Park is a Symptom of a Bigger Problem

How do we take care of our neighbours who don't have a house?

Everyone needs a place to play and a place to live

A tent encampment in Nunns Creek Park was called a “danger to the public” and is now being evicted.

This comes after SalmonFest organizers begged for action during the last city council meeting. SalmonFest is one of the largest events that gets held in Nunns Creek Park.

Jim Lilburn is the coordinator of the Campbell River Salmon Festival’s Logger Sports. He told council that the park was not a safe space to bring kids or host any events.

The city put through a Public Nuisance Bylaw Amendment at a special meeting on June 2nd. This has made all camping in the park illegal from April 1st through September 30th each summer.

But where are folks who live in the park going to go? Houses are getting more expensive, and rentals are hard to find. More people find themselves without a roof over their heads.

Legally, the city has to give people experiencing homelessness a location to shelter. They were allowed to camp at Nunns Creek because the city thought it would be the easiest spot for everyone else to avoid.

“No park is ideal, however, Nunns Creek Park was identified as a sheltering area (reasonably close to services) that would have the least impact on the downtown,” a city report says.

The city has been trying to ignore these folks rather than implementing services that could solve the problem.

The city is now allowing people to camp at an old BMX track near the edge of the park. The change forces folks to move just enough to be out of sight and out of mind.

It’s fair for citizens to want safe access to a public park. Parks and festivals create a sense of community. But the best way to free up the park would be to address the causes of homelessness and give folks the help they need.

The Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness was disappointed that no groups were consulted before the city decided to move the camp.

Stefanie Hendrickson is a coordinator with the Coalition. “It appears as though the decision was made with haste and without consultation with social service organizations, nearby businesses, or First Nations,” she told the Campbell River Mirror.

“While we acknowledge the criminal activity present and the negative impact on park use at Nunns Creek Park, we firmly believe in working together as a community towards solutions that are considered and planned with care in order to provide a compassionate response to a challenging problem,” she said.

For now, the campers will be out for the summer. The park will be cleaned up so community events can go ahead in a safe environment.

But this is a temporary solution. It pits the needs of one group in the community against the needs of another.

The only solution that works for both groups is to house folks.