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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

Lisa Grey, who works from home, didn’t realize how poor her Internet service was until she moved here last year. (Submitted photo).
CRD launches regional broadband, cell survey

Internet gaps, service levels mapped across region

Ian Watson, left, and Gary Carlson, take a fast turn at the 99 Mile cross-country ski trails. The 100 Mile Nordics opened the season on Nov. 26. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).
Busy opening weekend for 100 Mile Nordics

Membership up 30 percent over last year

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson (right) with his partner Shelley Wiese participated in an BC Liberals Caucus virtual oath ceremony Friday, Nov. 27. Doerkson was appointed opposition critic of rural development by interim leader Shirley Bond. (Photo submitted)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA appointed rural development opposition critic

Newly-elected Lorne Doerkson said it will be an honour to work for all rural consituents

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read