Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools has had a chance to assess the damage to Rutherford Elementary School after squatters from Alliance Against Displacement and Discontent City broke in on Friday before being arrested Saturday. Photo courtesy Steve Rae

VIDEO: Officials say $100,000 to clean up B.C. school taken over by squatters

A Nanaimo school board chairman says the doors and roof at a local elementary school needs to be repaired

Cleaning up after the Schoolhouse Squat will be costly for a B.C. school district that could have used the money elsewhere.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools has had a chance to assess the damage to Rutherford Elementary School after squatters from Nanaimo’s Alliance Against Displacement and Discontent City broke in on Friday before being arrested over the weekend.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said he was “absolutely mortified” with what he saw inside the school.

“They destroyed all the doors downstairs on the first level and barricaded them. They had put holes in the roof to hang their banners in the flashing and that’s a big concern because it’s rainy season; we’re going to have to repair that quickly,” he said.

Rae said it appeared the squatters “were planning on being there for the long haul” with a kitchen set up, cases of pasta, peanut butter, fruit, coffee, as well as “cases of unused needles,” other drug paraphernalia and naloxone kits. A machete and knives were also found.

Rae said he believes $100,000 is a conservative estimate of the damage, as the district will need to repair doors and the roof and says it will hire a hazmat team and additional security at schools.

“All of this is a cost and all of this is taking away from where it was designed, where taxpayers expect we spend it, and that’s on the education of our kids and that’s the real crime here,” Rae said. “Of course we’re empathetic toward the people who are struggling with homelessness and addictions, but this is not the way to go about it.”

Laura Riach of Alliance Against Displacement said it was the RCMP who broke down the doors and said she didn’t witness anyone inside ripping children’s artwork off the walls.

“On a simple, logical level, if we were trying to convert a building into a home for 300 people, why would we destroy the inside of it?” she asked.

Isabel Krupp, also from Alliance Against Displacement, said squatters didn’t do damage to the building because it was intended to be a home.

“We were there to take care of it and to put that building to use after it was abandoned by the government, by the state,” she said.

RELATED: RCMP arrest 26 squatters at Nanaimo elementary school

RELATED: Discontent City campers break into empty elementary for ‘Schoolhouse Squat’

RELATED: Nanaimo’s Soldiers of Odin council candidate opposes school sit-in

Amber McGrath, Discontent City supporter, said yesterday she didn’t know yet if tent city residents and supporters would attempt to squat at another school or empty building.

A press release from Alliance Against Displacement announcing the Schoolhouse Squat noted that “judges have found that governments have an obligation to the public good that private landowners do not. Homeless people have stopped government injunction applications by successfully claiming that public property owners have a special responsibility to the public good.”

RCMP arrested 26 squatters for break-and-enter and mischief on Saturday at Rutherford school.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cranbrook names 2019-20 Youth Ambassadors

Sheila Martine (Princess) and Faith McWhirter (Sweetheart) chosen at Friday night pageant

College, Ktunaxa sign new agreement building on long-standing partnership

An agreement between the College of the Rockies and the Ktunaxa Nation… Continue reading

It happened this week in Cranbrook: 1912

June 9-15: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Government must at least try to act on forestry issues, MLA Clovechok says

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok says the situation with the forest… Continue reading

Wasa Triathlon has successful weekend

Hundreds of athletes converged in Wasa Park to take part in the annual event

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Most Read