Homeless people have been living among human waste and piles of illegally dumped garbage in a bushy area next to Ladies Mile, in Meadowridge, and residents have accused their councillor and City officials of largely ignoring the problem for almost a year.
Resident Wayne Mc Callum went to take photographs of the mess. “The smell is unbearable. It’s disgusting! Flies were sticking to me,” he said.
Residents say they have appealed repeatedly to Ward 71 councillor Penny East and City officials to clean the area, clear the bush and avert what they fear is a brewing health hazard, but their efforts have met with little response.
“Other residents in the area have also complained to the council and have yet to receive a response” said Mr Mc Callum. He said the spot posed a health risk.
“If nothing is done by the council, I will have to bear that stench and cut the shrubs down myself. If residents had to see the appalling state of this area they would be shocked. We shouldn’t have to worry about this” said Mr Mc Callum.
Another resident, Meagan McLeod agrees, “When walking around the area, you come across broken glass, used condoms and human faeces on the sidewalk. It’s a major health hazard”.
Ms McLeod said she had been urging the City since last July to do something, but without much success. She said she had had to contact Ms East several times, and it was only after sending her an SMS complaining about her apparent lack of interest in the problem, the very next day a team of municipal workers had come out to cut the bushes – that had been in October last year, and Mr Mc Callum said the workers had only cut the vegetation around the homeless camp but left the bush where the people were living.
“It’s making it seem okay to squat in that area. The council also failed to remove the off-cuts of branches in the area and the vagrants began to started to make fires,” he said.
Ms McLeod said residents didn’t want to make things more difficult for the homeless, but the City needed to find a solution.
“We want the city to take action and do their jobs by providing these people with a place to live and to clean up the area, because it poses as a health hazard,” said Ms McLeod.
“I have been yelled at while taking my morning walks with my baby. This is both intimidating and completely unacceptable.”
Homeless man James Killa, 43, lives about 200m from the dumping spot. As he boiled water for his lunch, he told the Bulletin he regularly took the blame for the mess left by vagrants sorting scrap.
Mr Killa is usually accompanied by his dog, Madam. He has lived on the streets since 2003.
“I try my best to keep my area clean, and I keep myself busy by exercising and reading my books. There are other vagrants in the area who sort out their scraps on a nearby field and they just leave the area dirty. Sometimes, I will even go and clean up the area because most people blame me for the mess”.
He lives is under a large tree, with all his belongings out on display and his books were stacked up behind the tree with a makeshift punching bag hanging in the tree.
When the Bulletin asked him, why he stayed in the area, he said sternly, “Mam, I did not decide to live this life. This living arrangement is not permanent. I’m only staying in this area for now because of my situation, but this place brings me peace, as I am a peaceful man. But when I do go to homeless shelters, they mistreat us and serve us horrible food. “I don’t want to be homeless forever. At the moment, I am unemployed, but I usually work in the area as a gardener. If I could just work, that would be great. A lot of people help me in the area with food and clothing, but I prefer to be proactive and earn my own money”.
Last week Thursday, workers from the City’s solid waste management department filled more than 10 garbage bags after cleaning the dumping spot. But the bush still remained.
In an email to the Bulletin, City parks confirmed it had received requests to cut bushes in the area, but the vegetation screened vehicle lights and removing it would not resolve what was essentially a social issue.
The Bulletin made numerous attempts since Wednesday last week to contact Ms East for comment. She had not responded to our SMSes or voice messages by the time this edition went to print.