October 21, 2022 Homeless Camp

Published by Victor Barr on

Pots stood and stared at the chaos. The camp where he’d been living for the last few months was being dismantled before his eyes. Police, bylaw, and park workers had arrived and cleaned up and cleared out. They even had a backhoe.

Did they know how much it hurt the people who lived there? How hard it was to watch what meagre possessions they had to get torn down and thrown in the dumpster.

Did they really need the backhoe?

Pots understood some of the reasoning behind it. He’d warned some of the campers the city would come to take it down soon. They shouldn’t be bringing in appliances and furniture. The camp was set up to be a temporary place to put up their tents and keep the homeless away from the main part of downtown. They wouldn’t want the tourists to see all the vagrants camping out, would they? 

As it was, the camp had exploded since June, and there must have been 100 people living there by now. More and more people were being forced onto the streets since the beginning of the stupid pandemic.

Last week he met a young lady and her dog who were forced onto the streets because she couldn’t afford an apartment at $ 2000.00 a month. It was hard enough to find one but she couldn’t even get one close to her budget because they wouldn’t accept dogs. She told Pots the dog was her only friend in the world.

Pots understood her problem. She told him the last place she lived told her she had to move out because they were having family move into the basement suite she’d been living in. They gave her three months’ notice but she had no luck finding anything. Rent had come up twenty-five percent since 2020 and now her wage at her waitress job hadn’t gone up more than a dollar. Then she got fired because she brought her dog to work after she’d been evicted. She cried when she told Pots – what else was she supposed to do with her dog?

Suddenly there seemed to be a lot of third-world problems in a first-world country.

Pots would be okay, even though he was getting older and he didn’t look forward to the winter. At least the weather had been warm and dry well into October. If this was climate change he was all for it. 

The cops told him there was a shelter opening on Bay street; he cringed at the thought of it. There was no way he would move into a place like that. Shelters were so cramped and he had to worry about the crackheads stealing what little stuff he had. Besides they had too many rules.

Sometimes he longed for a place of his own. He had a place in Vancouver but the big city was too much. Things had gotten crazy. Even though he worked at what jobs he could get, he never had enough to get a real place of his own. The single room in the run-down hotel he lived in was something, but he wanted more space and more freedom. So he went on vacation to the Okanagan – him and so many others.

He wasn’t sure where he would go next, winter was on its way, and he could feel it in the air.

Going back to Vancouver was an option but he was tired of the big city… so very tired. He took a drag of the cigarette and watched the destruction continue. Jobs were scarce in Kelowna for a guy like him, and his meagre old age pension was barely enough to keep him fed.

So he’d scrounged empties and whatever he could to buy his next bottle and crawl back inside it. Inside the bottle, life was easier. Until he came out and needed to eat. That was the challenge, getting enough to eat.

He thought about getting off the booze and getting sober. What was the point though?

Sober for what?

He stood there with his buddy, Blue Eyes, and watched the destruction continue. By-law claimed it was because they didn’t want the camp to become a permanent shanty town. The tents had to leave in the morning and get put up again after five o’clock.

How stupid was that?

Like these people have nowhere to go so those pigs expected everyone to just pack up and return and set up camp again? Fucking stupid…

Pots didn’t have much. He’d been on the streets for so long that he didn’t know anything else. Unlike the lady and her dog… There we so many more people on the streets. Where did they come from? Most wouldn’t say and almost all of them didn’t have a clue where they would go. So the rail trail on the north end of downtown was it. 

Pots didn’t know what the next few days would bring. He took another swig from his bottle of JD and sighed.

He didn’t really care anyway. 

The camp would be back and the problems would continue. All Pots knew was he would survive and if he didn’t – so be it.

Until they did something to address the mental health issues that were everywhere, nothing would ever change. They were so worried about fighting Covid, they forgot about the real epidemics facing society. Addiction, homelessness, and now the ever-increasing affordability crisis have gotten worse since the so-called pandemic began. 

Pots stubbed out his cigarette and laughed at the absurdity of it all.


Pots is a real person and this is a fictional account of the homeless camp the authorities in Kelowna recently dismantled at the rail trail by Knox Mountain in the City’s north end. 

I listened to Chris Walker from CBC interview him and his friend Blue Eyes and it impacted me. There are so many homeless on the streets and it is getting worse. Winter is coming and I hope they survive. 

Listen to the interview here and go to 1:15 of the show to hear Chris speak with the two men.


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