Trespass signs are up for a makeshift camp set up near Gyro Park and the Old Trail Bridge.
That’s the word from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing after the Trail Times contacted the province to find out who is in charge of riparian land near the Columbia River.
“In this case, natural resource officers with the Compliance and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development are aware of the camps on Crown land near Trail,” confirmed a ministry spokesperson.
“Trespass notices have been issued to occupants of the camp on the west side of the river, south of the main bridge, and occupants are aware that they are in offence of the Land Act.”
Garbage, drug paraphernalia and other hazardous materials scattered near the camp have been photographed and reported to the city for a number of weeks.
The ministry said, “A co-ordinated, cross-agency response plan is being put together to address the specific housing and health needs of the occupants and to clean up the site. This work is sensitive in nature, requiring specific timing to ensure all necessary supports are in place, as well as potential support from the RCMP.”
Regarding the trailers lodged on the road to Casino, the ministry stated, “ministry staff have been made aware of the site on the ministry-owned side road near Trail.”
The ministry said while there are no immediate safety issues associated with the current situation from a highways operation perspective, local MOTI (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure) staff will be visiting the site.
“To notify the occupant that this use is unauthorized and work with them to find a more suitable location for them to camp. Local staff will also be working with RCMP and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary as they work to find a solution.”
As far as health care and support, those services are available but the individuals have to ask for it.
“We always partner with other agencies,” began Lynn Miller, Interior Health’s psychiatric services manager for Kootenay Boundary. “And I think the other main point is that our service is low barrier. When someone presents at the Kiro Wellness Centre we will provide service, (but) people have to ask for service.”
In its response to the Times, the ministry mentioned an “immediate action” resource that is in place for people in need.
“Our government understands the urgency of this issue which is why we have taken immediate action through our Rapid Response to Homelessness program for people in need,” the spokesperson said. “Through this program over 2,000 units are under development in 22 communities, with more than 400 of those completed already. All the housing includes 24/7 support services for residents to help people make a fresh start in their lives.”
The Trail Times reviewed the list and none of the 22 communities or units are located in the West Kootenay/Boundary.