Two homeless campsites set up on private property in Terrace have been cleared.
The first site across from Hwy 16 near Walmart had appeared in April with between four to 12 tents. A growing number of tents were also set up behind the Birchwood apartment buildings on Little Ave.
In the beginning of August, the property owner of the larger site north of Keith Ave. brought in crews to clear the land of trees and brush to discourage people from camping there. A dumpster and large pile of wood debris are all that remains. The city says the bylaw officer last visited the site on Aug. 2, and found no one still living there before it was cleared a week later.
Though it’s possible some tenants had moved to the wooded vacant property on Little Ave. There appeared to be a growing number of tents set up towards the back of the property adjacent to the apartment building.
The city notified the property owner and the land was cleared Aug. 15. Fallen trunks now criss-cross the site, with a small cabinet still standing towards the back. The city says they believe the property owner notified the occupants beforehand clearing the site, but did not carry out the eviction.
Currently, the city says they are not aware of any other homeless tent sites in the city.
The city’s strategy when dealing with complaints of homeless camps set up on private property is to have the bylaw officers notify the owner and ask that they clear the land.
“Camping on private property differs from camping on public property since the property owners are also part of the conversation,” says a city spokesperson.
Both sites produced numerous complaints from the community about activities like litter and campfires, the city says.
On July 10, Terrace RCMP had found various stolen items at the Keith Avenue ‘tent city’.
Then on Aug. 4, police went into the site on Little Ave. to respond to reports of weapons on the property, and were told a man chased another man with machetes and hatchets. The victim was located with minor injuries to his head and was taken to the hospital. Police say others present were intoxicated and uncooperative. Claims were also made involving gasoline, bear spray and baseball bats.
Conversations about homelessness in Terrace have become a polarizing discussion in the community about how to handle the complex issue. Lack of housing, mental health and addiction services, rising rental costs and industrial development are all debated to contributing factors.
A public forum to discuss homelessness has been set for Sept. 3 at the Banquet Room at the Terrace Sportsplex from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Each speaker will have three minutes to make their comments and suggestions.