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Frustrated neighbours relieved city is paying attention to Richmond homeless camp

Last Updated Apr 6, 2019 at 9:17 pm PDT

A homeless camp in Richmond is drawing the ire of neighbours. (Source: Facebook)

Neighbours around a homeless camp in Richmond say the city is finally giving them some attention

About a half dozen tents have cropped up in the Hamilton neighbourhood, just next to Queensborough, since October

The City says they are aware of the small camp and there hasn't been an increase in crime

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) — After months of frustration, people angry about a homeless camp in their Richmond neighbourhood say they are finally getting some attention.

About a half dozen tents have cropped up in the Hamilton neighbourhood, just next to Queensborough, since October.

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Clint Keenan says he’s desperate for the city to do something.

“The problem is, the city was treating it like it was a homeless problem, which, some of it is, but the primary problem we have with the camp is there’s drugs, crime and theft present,” he says.

He says it’s particularly troublesome given its proximity to other facilities, including a daycare and popular trail.

“It’s right across from a daycare, there’s needles all over the camp. They clean it up, and then it goes back,” he says. “The people that are in there do drug deals on the side streets — a truck pulls up, they do the deal, they go back to the camp.”

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He says the city has put out a notice to limit the number to six tents, but others seem to spring up at night.

He and other neighbours met with Coun. Bill McNulty and MLA Jas Johal Saturday, and they will be meeting with the mayor on Monday.

People living near a homeless camp in Richmond are frustrated, and want the city to take action. (Source: Facebook)

No increase in crime from small camp: City

A spokesperson for the City of Richmond says there is a small group of homeless people camping in tents on city-owned vacant property on the Westminster Highway. The city believes the five or six people at the camp were renovicted from their homes.

Ted Townsend with the city said in a statement that they are aware people are concerned about the camp, and they are making sure the public is safe.

According to the city, bylaw, fire and police officers visit the site daily to make sure that health and safety standards are met — including bagging and removing their garbage, and preventing fire risks.

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Townsend says the police haven’t reported any increase in crime since the camp formed.

“We share the residents desire  to bring this situation to a satisfactory resolution. However, the City must consider many issues in dealing with this issue, including legal precedents established by the courts in regards to relocating homeless who are camped on public property. Richmond is also a compassionate community that takes care of our citizens including the vulnerable,” reads the statement. “Homelessness is a regional issue and Richmond is experiencing it as well.”

The city says the last homeless count in 2017 found 75 people were homeless, but service agencies guess there are actually around 120 people without homes.

A new modular housing complex and an expanded emergency shelter are set to open later this spring.