Costs associated with Discontent City have exceeded $100,000.
The City of Nanaimo has spent at least $131,749 on Discontent City according to financial data obtained by the News Bulletin as a result of a freedom of information request.
The data does not include costs associated with the city’s legal action against the organizers of Discontent City, as that information was redacted. It also excludes policing costs associated with the camp.
Legal costs were not disclosed due to solicitor-client privilege, which is allowed under the province’s privacy act, according to the city’s response to the freedom of information request.
Discontent City was first set up on May 17 at Port Drive. However, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled on Sept. 21 that occupants of the homeless camp must vacate the property within 21 days.
The city spent $87,969 on indirect staffing costs associated with Discontent City between May 18 and Aug. 31, with one Nanaimo Fire Rescue employee earning $24,947 for 336 hours of work during that time period according to the data.
Meanwhile, direct costs associated with Discontent City have so far amounted to $23,749, which shows that security around tent city, contracted out to Footprints Security Patrol, cost $4,344, while the removal of the camp’s front gate cost $872. An expense marked as “damage to oil separator, dirty water discharge” cost taxpayers $3,915.
Between May 18 and July 9, litter pick up cost the city $8,562. Of that, more than $6,000 was attributed to “wages and fleet” allocation.
Compliance with a health order issued by the Vancouver Island Health Authority cost taxpayers $19,229 according to the data. VIHA had ordered the city to provide Discontent City occupants with municipal water, additional portable toilets and hand-sanitizing stations in early July, but the city initially refused to comply.
The city spent $6,127 on portable toilets and $7,417 on litter pickup between July 10 and Aug. 31 according to the data, which also shows that the cost of installing a water pipeline to the camp was $5,338. However, water usage at the camp between July 10 and Sept. 4 cost taxpayers only $347.
Nanaimo’s costs are low compared to the District of Saanich’s estimated costs associated with a recently closed homeless camp – between $746,000 and $923,500, according to the Saanich News. That total included policing costs estimated at $315,000 to $547,000.
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay said he was unaware of the estimated costs provided to the News Bulletin by the city, but said they do not surprise him. He said he could not provide an estimate on how much legal costs would be.
“Everything is extremely fluid at this point,” he said. “We haven’t received all the bills.”
Coun. Ian Thorpe said council has not been provided with figures on the estimated costs associated with Discontent City, but expects the costs to be higher after the camp is dismantled.
“I would expect the actual cleanup is going to be a very costly item,” he said.