UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP say it was the right call to evacuate people from an area of Discontent City yesterday, with explosive materials inside a sharps container.
RCMP’s Explosives Disposal Unit came to the homeless camp Friday night, examined the item found and removed it safely from the encampment, said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.
He said the items that caused the concern were parts for commercial fireworks, “which are quite volatile.”
The resident at tent city who located the materials placed them in an empty sharps container, O’Brien said.
“So EDU has advised that if in fact it was lit, because there was a fuse inside, it could have caused significant harm because of the shrapnel from the sharps container,” he said. “Nothing malicious; they just didn’t realize.”
Some residents were evacuated to the New Hope Centre, not the conference centre as police initially reported.
“EDU were the ones to advise to empty that portion of the encampment, because how it was described to them, it posed a significant risk to the public if there was an ignition source,” O’Brien said.
He said the investigation is continuing and “everything is back to normal” at the camp.
FRIDAY NIGHT: Nanaimo RCMP have evacuated people out of a section of Discontent City and have called in a bomb disposal unit after finding what police have described as an explosive device in the homeless camp Friday afternoon.
Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the device was found shortly after 4 p.m. Police have cordoned off the area and are evacuating some of the camp’s residents.
RCMP at the scene were extending the police line outward on Friday evening.
“Our explosives disposal unit is coming over – it probably won’t get here until about 10 p.m. – and they’ll go in and assess it and take it away and safely dispose of it,” O’Brien said.
He said the device was found along the fence line across the street from Port Place shopping centre and an area within a radius of about 100 metres from where the device was located has been evacuated.
Police did not immediately elaborate on the nature or type of the explosive materials found.
The RCMP Explosives Disposal Unit is coming from Vancouver.
The incident happened the same day an injunction against the homeless camp took effect, though City of Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay announced this afternoon that there will be no enforcement of the injunction until the B.C. Supreme Court has had a chance to consider an extension for residents to relocate. The provincial government announced earlier this month that 170 units of temporary supportive housing would be set up in Nanaimo in November.
Nanaimo RCMP have set up a police line around part of Discontent City and are extending that police line out after an explosive device was found this afternoon. A bomb disposal unit is en route. #Nanaimo pic.twitter.com/skY6unDE4s
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) October 13, 2018