A homeless man who has been sleeping rough outside the Nelson Provincial Museum for more than a month says he has no immediate plans to move on.
The Nelson City Council is trying to figure out a way to get Jason McCutcheon to leave the bench on Hardy St but to no avail.
“I don’t know where to go yet,” says Jason. “Only time will tell.”
Clare Barton, council’s group manager environmental management has been liaising with the Ministry for Social Development to assist Jason to find suitable accommodation.
“Council approaches any homeless situation on a case by case basis as the reasons why a person sleeps in the CBD are varied.”
Last year the council brought in a new “City Amenity Bylaw” that sought to mitigate some of the issues caused by Lewis Stanton’s long protest on Trafalgar St. Under the bylaw, sleeping or otherwise occupying a footpath or road at night, for two or more hours requires permission. Obstructing window displays and/or signage is also forbidden.
Museum chief executive Lucinda Blakely-Jimson says that they recognise that homelessness in any form and rough sleeping is not the best outcome for any Nelson resident.
“We are hoping that the council will be able to find a healthier and safer option for Jason.”
A solution may be organically found, however. As part of a general repair and upgrade of the building frontage, the museum board is considering adding handrails to the outside seats to make them easier to stand up from, in line with our intentions to improve accessibility for our visitors with disabilities, including the elderly.
This will make the bench impossible to sleep on.
“Some of this upgrade and repair work is yet to be confirmed,” says Lucinda.
As for Jason, he says he hasn’t slept rough before, but part of the charm is that “no one is in charge of me”.
“But I don’t know what people are thinking of me when they are walking past. But I do get a good sleep. People have given me some blankets and a polar fleece. It’s all good.”