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.



[email protected]

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

Fraser Valley couple wins $500K after finding scratch-and-win while moving

  • Robert Walters and Lois Gueret of Agassiz win half a million from Scratch & Win ticket

High-risk sex offender living in Chilliwack back in court

Former mayor and residents wanted James Conway gone from residential neighbourhood two years ago

Court orders Hope-area First Nation council to accept long-contested memberships

Federal judge rules Peters Band Council acted “irrationally, unreasonably” in rejecting applications

KAAC won’t back Kent’s Teacup properties plans

Public consultation meeting is on March 10 at District Hall

Students in the Fraser East work hard, need more mental health support

McCreary Centre releases stats from 2018 that show trends among students

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

B.C. landlord can’t serve eviction notice because tenant is in jail

Homeowner baffled at arbitrator decision based on notice of hearing not being served properly

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Most Read