Numerous safety officers visited one of Chilliwack’s most visible homeless camps on Wednesday, but the goal wasn’t to move the campers along.
At least not yet.
RCMP Cpl. Mike Rail said the visit to the camp was just a routine one, to ensure the safety of both the general public and the people living under the Yale Road overpass along Railway Avenue. At the time, there were about eight tents between the sidewalk and the fence that blocks access to the sloping underpass. There are also bicycles, trailers, full shopping carts, boxes, tarps, and over the past few days, a Christmas tree.
RCMP, Chilliwack Fire Department, City of Chilliwack bylaw enforcement officers and several Griffin Security personnel were on scene, cleaning up garbage, checking on the campers, and sifting through some of their tents and belongings.
As the officers cleaned up and met with the campers, residents strolled by regularly.
“The main goal is safety of the public and the safety of the residents of the camp itself,” said Rail. “Every agency is down there doing their own thing.”
As far as the RCMP are concerned, their regular visits are a chance to ensure safety, watch for signs of criminal activity, and even see if anyone is hanging around with outstanding warrants.
“We want to make sure there’s nothing down there that’s going to hurt the public,” he says.
The underpass camp is just one of several around Chilliwack and Sardis that the homeless population continually migrate to. While the area was mostly cleared out in past months, it recently grew again.
City reps confirmed this week they have an active application to the court for the issuance of an injunction to remove the camp at the underpass. That action could take weeks, and is similar to the injunction sought in October for the Princess Lane parking lot camp off Princess Avenue.
In the meantime, city bylaw staff will continue to visit the camp multiple times a day. Their goal is to ensure the sidewalk remains clear for passing pedestrians and to encourage the campers to disperse.
On Wednesday, a security guard told a reporter that they are working on moving the camp along.
City officials continue to inform the public on what is being done to help the homeless, next week hosting a meeting, Nov. 30, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Evergreen Hall to share information on local services. City reps, MLAs, MP, Fraser Health, RCMP, the Chilliwack School District, Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, Salvation Army, Cyrus Centre, Pacific Community Resources Society and more are expected to be in attendance.