Opponents and supporters of the tent city in Nanaimo faced each other in two demonstrations Sunday, shouted slogans, exchanged angry viewpoints but otherwise kept the peace.
Kevin Donaghy, a support worker with the tent site, called DisconTent City, said about 40 to 50 people showed up to protest against the tenters. But they were met by about 200 people supporting the tenters.
“So we kind of drowned them out with our chants,” said Donaghy.
RCMP reported the whole demonstration and counter demonstration occurred with nobody causing any violence and no arrests were made.
Donaghy said about 15 people in the anti-tent demonstration, called Action Against DisconTent City, wore clothing that identified themselves as members of a group calling itself Soldiers of Odin, Vancouver Island chapter.
“We’re not against the homeless people. I want to get them apartments not tents,” the president of the Vancouver Island chapter, who wouldn’t give his name, told CHEK News.
The Soldiers of Odin have said they participated in the protest to make it safer for another group, Action Against DisconTent City that wants the tent city dismantled and the site cleaned up. No one from that group identified themselves, but dozens of people were lined up behind the Soldiers of Odin at the demonstration.
Internet posts show the Soldiers of Odin using a logo depicting a one-eyed angry face wearing a Viking helmet bearing two horns.
DisconTent City sprang up in May as a protest against the lack of affordable housing. As many as 150 people have camped there, making it one of the largest tent protests in B.C.
In response, the City of Nanaimo is seeking a court injunction allowing it to remove the tents and enforce fire-safety regulations. It is working with B.C. Housing, Island Health and RCMP to find solutions.
Donaghy said RCMP were on hand Sunday and some were spotted keeping watch from nearby buildings. But they did not have step in. He called the whole demonstration and counter demonstration a success. The real point of DisconTent City is to draw attention to the lack of affordable housing and the demonstrations made that clear, he said.