In an effort to make communication between both parties easier, the Vancouver Park Board has given Brody Williams, the organizer of Oppenheimer Park’s Tent City, a Blackberry cellphone paid for by the city.
For three years, occupiers have been camped out at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer park in protest of the city’s perceived lack of progress in ending homelessness – something Mayor Gregor Robertson advocated during his election run – as well providing affordable housing for low-income residents.
Led by Williams, the encampment has grown to encompass more than 40 tents throughout the park. Though the city has come around in support of the group, they were originally issued an eviction notice for illegally camping in a public park.
Because their protest is technically illegal, some feel that giving Williams the phone is an abuse of taxpayer dollars. But is it a worthwhile cost it if helps move both parties closer to a solution?
In an e-mail from The City, they say “…an older model pre-existing phone [was given] out, so no incremental cost was incurred. The phone is a valuable communications tool that has helped to build trust and encourage meaningful two-way dialogue with camp representatives. It’s also important from a public safety standpoint as it enables the camp representatives to quickly alert the VPD and Vancouver Fire and Rescue should any issues or emergencies arise.”
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Featured Image: @TristanMarkle via Twitter