This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.
The two incidents are unrelated. On October 8th, a homeless shelter in the forest behind the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church, in Campbell River, caught fire. The blaze started in the structure’s homemade fireplace. Neither of the two occupants were injured, but RCMP Cst. Maury Tyre said the fire easily have spread to nearby buildings. The day before this, the Campbell River Mirror reported that the homeless encampment at Quinsam road will soon be served with a notice to vacate.
“ … There have been reports of domestic assaults out there; we’ve found stolen property out there; we’ve found kids that are listed as missing intoxicated out there. From a risk management standpoint, unfortunately, it’s a location that did have some issues,” Tyre explained.
The most alarming incidents
The most alarming incidents have no connection to the camp, though they do involve homeless people.
In the early hours of September, 22nd, 2020. A 20 year old homeless male was set on fire as he slept underneath the highway bridge. He “managed to shed his burning clothing and made his way to the parking lot for help.” The man was treated for “severe burns to his back” and, when he returned to his sleeping place, found “some of his possessions had been removed.”
Cst. Tyre told Cortes Currents that the perpetrator “was probably know to the victim in some way, shape or form … but until somebody gets arrested, it hard is to say what motives somebody would have to do something like that.”
A gentleman who died in the hospital, after receiving a beating downtown, was also “housing disadvantaged.” He periodically stayed with friends, or in shelters, or out in the street.
Tyre said that some people on social media have tried to connect the two incidents, but the police investigation did not find any connection. They were totally separate incidents involving different groups of people.
Residents of Quinsam Road Camp
The most impoverished members of Campbell River’s homeless population camp out.
In a recent interview with Cortes Currents, Sue Moen from the Campbell River Coalition to end homelessness explained that, according BC Housing, homeless people “ … are precariously housed, or couch surfing, or aren’t paying rent directly to a landlord. They may be sharing a room, but their name isn’t on the rental agreement. They don’t know if they’ll have housing for the next thirty days … Also, there are a lot of people who are living in vehicles, RVs, and some even in campsites.”
There are about 20 people currently living in the encampment on Quinsam Road.
Moen told the Campbell River Mirror that people camped at Quinsam Road “have nothing except their camping stuff.”
Constable Tyre agreed, “People are just trying to survive the best way they know how and in this case it’s not a sustainable option.”
Nunn’s Creek Park
They will be given the option of camping in Nunn’s Creek Park, where a city bylaw says they must pack up all of their belongings and leave every morning by 9 AM. Failure to do so could result in a loss of the few possessions they have.
Note: Most of the segment called “the most alarming incidents” was added on Oct 30, 2020 – after Cortes Currents interviewed Cst Maurey Tyre.
Top photo credit: photo of camp at Quinsam road taken from a neighbourhood complaint to the Strathcona Regional District.