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Homeless encampment on Quesnel Riverfront Trail catches fire

No one was inside the structure

A fire appears to have left a relatively sizeable homeless encampment full of debris along Quesnel’s Riverfront Trail in ruins.

Firefighters with the Quesnel Volunteer Fire Department were called to extinguish the fire located below the Fraser Village Homes at around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16.

The encampment is one of several that popped up earlier this year along the paved trail popular with residents and visitors.

Members of the Quesnel RCMP were on scene and shortly joined by bylaw enforcement officers and the city’s director of development services, Tanya Turner.

Police confirmed no one was inside the structure.

”Upon arrival, we had a campfire that had spread to some debris and some combustible material that were outside of it, and it was around where there was a small gathering of items in that area,” said fire chief Ron Richert.

It remains unclear if the heavily damaged encampment made of tarps and tents will be cleared.

The encampment was the largest along the Riverfront Trail. A few feet away was a much smaller encampment occupied by one individual who told bylaw enforcement her only option provided for housing was Seasons House, an emergency shelter, which she refuses to go to.

BC Housing’s request to rezone the Ramada Inn on St. Laurent Avenue to provide supportive housing and the reallocation of Seasons House was unanimously denied by mayor and council this past September.

In a report to council, city manager Byron Johnson noted $100,000 from a COVID Restart grant from the province remained unspent and was allocated by council towards supporting vulnerable populations. Staff, he wrote, was planning to engage a consultant to help review the city’s role regarding vulnerable populations and to provide recommendations to help as the city moves forward in areas in which it has social responsibilities.

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