A homeless camp informally known as Railtown was dismantled on Tuesday, and five occupants were evicted from the area.
“How this started was there were some concerns about emergency responders having to go out there,” said Hugh Eberle, district manager of transportation for West Kootenay. “It’s quite challenging to access, with sloping forested terrain. It was fairly risky for emergency responders.”
The camp, which according to some has been active for eight years, was one of the largest and most developed in the Nelson area.
Eberle said they’ve been aware of the Railtown site, as well as a number of other camping locations in the area, for quite a while. This particular camp was problematic because of the human waste and garbage that had accumulated. There were also reports of open-fire cooking.
“Not only is it a wildlife attractant, it’s a public health issue,” said Eberle.
“We don’t go out hunting. We understand this is a complex situation, so we operated under the unified system of command.”
The Nelson RCMP, Nelson Police Department, Canadian Pacific Railway Police, Nelson Fire and Rescue as well as other city workers were in attendance on scene. Various structures and tents were taken down and disposed of, and any possessions left behind collected.
“It was a huge job, cleaning up this mess,” said Eberle. “But we’re done.”
The camp has been known to host as many as 30 or 40 people, many of whom left the scene before the police could arrive. The personal belongings they left behind were confiscated.
Five occupants were evicted from the area. Three of them left voluntarily, according to Eberle. The other two caused problems.
“They had some questions for the RCMP about personal belongings at the site. They were certainly a bit more upset,” he said.
“Our plan is we’re going to continue to monitor the site and play it by ear, accordingly with our resources.”