Transient camps continue to be a problem, with some still in existence

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
June 29th, 2017

The problem of people starting illegal temporary residences continued in May as more transient camps were removed.

City bylaw services reported that it had removed nine more transient camps during the last month. Last month it removed 12 transient camps with a “relatively large” camp removed four separate times from the Grand Forks area.

In March the city’s bylaw services and the RCMP removed one dozen individual transient campsites, as well as clearing one dozen more potential transient campsites of construction material.

According to a bylaw services report to city council, spring and warmer weather brings the transient camps and with it comes an ongoing issue for the city. A bylaw services report to city council noted that five transient camps currently exist in Grand Forks.

The “transient attitude (is) shifting towards aggressive and possessive,” a report to city council at a committee-of-the-whole meeting noted.

Five of 19 fire responses for the Grand Forks Fire Department for the month were for fires started by homeless people, noted the city’s fire chief, Dale Heriot, in his report to council.

“They are becoming more aggressive against fire and bylaw personnel and twice RCMP have been required to attend,” he said.

In April two arrests were made and a restraining order was issued after volunteer firefighters’ cars were damaged in the city’s fire hall parking lot. As well, Heriot noted that threats were made against personnel in the parking lot on April 27.

During the fire department’s registration for the spring training weekend on April 28, two homeless people were removed for causing disturbances. 

A transient camp is described as an illegal temporary residence for those people who are moving through the area, or have just moved to the area and have planned an extended stay.

The bylaw services report for May also noted that 400 kilograms of trash dumped on the side of Granby Road were cleaned up.

Construction values slowing

In May eight building permit applications were received — with a yearly total now sitting at 37 — but 2017 construction values have declined significantly over 2016, dropping from $2.54 million in 2016 to $1.93 million in 2017.

There are 12 new residences under construction in the city (four that are modular homes), while there are nine new commercial renovations under development.

Where there’s heat

The total fire service calls for Grand Forks for May were 41 — eight fire-related, 20 rescue (including flood), 13 first responder — giving the service a total of 182 calls for the year. 

Heriot said snowpack levels remain slightly above historical averages.

“The melt started several weeks behind normal, but the melt rate during the early part of June has been approximately double the normal rate,” he said.

“This rapid melt was a contributing factor in the flooding experienced throughout the valley throughout May.”

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