Occupy Nelson refuses city’s offer
It's back to the table for the Occupy Nelson movement and the City of Nelson after the occupiers turned down a resolution from council.
Members of city council and Mayor John Dooley were joined by Cheryl Dowden, the executive director at ANKORS and co-chair of the Nelson Committee on Homelessness and Jenny Robinson the executive director of Nelson Cares and a Nelson Committee on Homelessness member at a meeting with the occupiers on Tuesday.
Dooley felt that the meeting had gone well and that council had offered to the site that in exchange for the current site being removed, the city would allow them to have an information booth at City Hall.
"Our offer still stands, that they're welcome to have a presence on the site in the form of an information site if they wish, and we will be more than happy to provide power to that between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. But we want the site as it is to be removed and cleaned up," said Dooley.
The letter from Occupy Nelson was received by council on Wednesday afternoon.
Dooley said it was a little short notice to totally respond but said that they were going to continue their conversation with the group for the next couple days.
"We want this changed outside and at the end of the day we'll have to make sure that we're looking out for the greater good of the community and that people are adhering to the policies and bylaws that we have in place about people camping in public spaces," he said.
The response from the occupiers read, "The homelessness issue in Nelson is such that even our little amount of aid has become part of people’s lives. We cannot in good conscious remove our protest camp without a tenable solution that provides those in need with a safe space for the upcoming winter months. We feel that the nature of the protest camp would change if such a space were available."
Dooley said that there is no question that there is a challenge with finding adequate accommodation in the city for the homeless.
"We're willing to work with the various groups in the community like Nelson CARES as an example to see if there is a possible solution to that particular question that they have," he said. "We'll continue to do that and I think it's important that we're always on task looking for opportunities to create spaces for people to be living that are a clean and safe environment, however this is not what we have out here."
Robinson said that they have made an application to the BC Housing for additional funding for emergency wet weather beds.
She said that all 19 shelter beds are full at this time, and expects to here from BC Housing within in the week.