RCMP guidance on homeless camping in Gabriola parks

Cst. Patti Evans, Acting Detachment Commander

Gabriola RCMP

Wednesday, March 11 2020

I know that the new camping bylaw is going to be a hot topic this Spring and Summer, hopefully not literally as we definitely don’t want to encourage fires in our beautiful parks.

However, we, the Gabriola RCMP and Fire Chief Will Sprogis representing the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Dept, want to give people a few tips if they want to report a bylaw concern related to camping. 

For reference, we now know that there are four parks on Gabriola Island that permit homeless camping: Cox Community Park, 707 Community Park, South Road Community Park, and Hyham Community Parks.*

The restrictions are:

- must be homeless, so not someone who just wants to spend the night under the stars. There are other places for that! Like Descanso Bay Regional Campground or the campground at Pages Marina.

- must have no other options for shelter.

- there is a year round ban on fires and smoking at every RDN park.

- the camp must be 30 m from any private property, trail, road, shed, bench, garbage can.

- the camp must be set up after 7 pm and removed by 9 am.

- the camper must leave the park by 9 am and must take every part of their camp with them, including packing out refuse and waste. 

If there is an emergency, call 911 and report the incident to Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department, the RCMP or BC Ambulance Services. 

A camp found after 9am is not an emergency. If a park user sees someone they believe to be in violation of the bylaw - unless it is an emergency, such as a fire or a crime in progress - they should contact RDN Bylaw Services first. RDN Bylaw officers will attend and determine if there has been a bylaw violation and direct removal of the campsite, issue violation tickets(s) as appropriate and arrange for cleanup if necessary. 

Bylaw Services will receive complaints in the following manner:

Via their online complaint form at https://www.rdn.bc.ca/making-complaint (preferred method)

By telephone at 250-390-6559

By fax at 250-390-6513

By mail to 6300 Hammond Bay Rd, Nanaimo V9T 6N2

By email to bylawservices@rdn.bc.ca

If you are reporting a complaint to Bylaw, note the location by trail marker if in the 707, or nearest road access, or GPS on your cell phone, and any descriptors of the camp and/or the campers. 

For safety reasons, we do not recommend the public engaging directly with anyone who may be camping illegally.

* Editor’s note: South Road Park is across South Road from Namaste Farm. Hyham Park is immediately north of Drumbeg Provincial Park.