The old Crofton Elementary School has been a frequent hang-out for drug activity and setting fires. (File photo by Don Bodger)

Crofton residents urged to keep an eye on old Crofton elementary building

Nanaimo incident sparks fear of copycat protests at other locations

There are renewed concerns about the old Crofton Elementary School building as a potential target for the homeless or squatters in the wake of what happened at an abandoned school in Nanaimo Saturday.

The so-called Schoolhouse Squat of Alliance Against Displacement and residents and supporters of Discontent City moved into the Rutherford Elementary School that closed in June. Police were quick to act and arrested 26 people.

“We understand and acknowledge and respect that there’s a homeless problem in this province and we want to help where we can with homeless people,” said Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District chairman Steve Rae. “But this is something that is completely different. This is a group of people who have broken onto our property that’s not been supportive of the real cause, which is homelessness.”

Break-and-enter and mischief charges were being filed against the occupants.

Dan Robin of the Crofton Community Centre called the incident to the attention of Crofton residents so they could be vigilant in watching over the old Crofton Elementary site until it finally gets demolished.

“If you are near our old Crofton Elementary School, observe and report any suspicious activity there as its open season on all abandoned buildings that the law as it stands permits this illegal behaviour, if you’re homeless,” he pointed out. “The Federal government needs to get into action on this law right now before anarchy prevails.”

Robin was pleased to see the law prevailed and acted quickly in Nanaimo to remove, arrest and charge the perpetrators.

“Too many people give sympathy to those who have chosen that lifestyle,” he indicated. “We’re not talking about the mentally unstable or physically unable to work, but the people who protest about everything in life as a career and not contributing to society, but abusing their rights.”

Robin hopes the Nanaimo example will make others think twice about squatting anywhere else.

He added it’s still all the more reason to get the old Crofton school demolished as soon as possible and Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley is working on making that happen.

– with a file from Greg Sakaki, Nanaimo News Bulletin

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