The City of Vancouver’s Park Board has applied for an injunction in BC Supreme Court to initiate the process of dismantling the activist and homeless camp at the Downtown Eastside’s Oppenheimer Park.
Officials with the municipal government say heath and safety conditions have deteriorated to a critical point, forcing the City to take action to ensure the safety and well-being of those in the park.
This will also allow the park to return to its intended purpose for general public use; the camp’s structures and barriers have been in violation of park bylaws and prevent residents from enjoying the space.
The injunction is supported by the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Fire Department. According to The Province, thorough and frequent inspections by fire crews and police found the following health and safety issues at the park:
- many incidents of verbal threats and violent attacks, with weapons including firearms, shovels, bats and axes
- numerous thefts
- open drug use, needle exchange and drug trafficking
- open flames and smoking inside tents and structures next to combustible and flammable materials
- the high presence of bed bugs
- the scattering of used needles and condoms on park grounds
- buckets of urine and feces inside tents, kept over a long period of time
The Oppenheimer Park camp began in July and originally consisted of about a dozen activists protesting the City’s perceived lack of progress over addressing homelessness. The camp grew exponentially to about 200 people after city officials issued an eviction notice.
It also led to the last minute relocation of this past summer’s Powell Street Festival, which is normally held at the park every year.
Over the past week, to address concerns over Vancouver’s rising homeless population and relocate the Oppenheimer Park campers, the municipal government announced it would immediately open 40 new shelter spaces at the City-owned building at 900 Pacific Street (formerly A Kettle of Fish restaurant), 30 additional spaces at Union Gospel Mission, and establish 157 units of temporary homeless housing at Quality Inn (1335 Howe Street).
The hotel will be leased by the City over a two-year period before it is demolished to allow for redevelopment.
Later this fall, three new permanent housing sites will open at 2465 Fraser Street (near Broadway), 111 Princess Avenue and 951 Boundary Road (the Historic Taylor Manor). Altogether, all three housing projects will provide nearly 300 additional units of social housing.
Featured image: @TristanMarkle via Twitter