Park Board delays decision on overnight homeless campers

Jul 14 2020, 11:42 am

The Vancouver Park Board was supposed to decide Monday night whether or not to legalize overnight camping in city parks for homeless residents, but the meeting needed to be extended because so many people wanted to speak.

The board will regroup Tuesday evening at 6 pm to hear the remaining speakers on the issue. The Park Board had grouped speakers into three cohorts, and people in groups A and B got to speak on Monday. Those in group C will speak Tuesday.

The board’s acting general manager, Shauna Wilton, proposed in a July 7 report that the City change its bylaws to allow homeless people to camp overnight in designated parks.

“In order for the Board to deliver on its mission to provide, preserve, and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit all people, communities, and the environment, the Parks Control bylaw must be updated so that it recognizes the needs of all park users, including those currently experiencing homelessness,” Wilton wrote.

Pitching tents is technically illegal in parks, but those bylaws can’t be enforced currently because the BC Supreme Court ruled it would be a Charter violation due to the city’s lack of shelter capacity.

Wilton’s proposed plan would let homeless residents set up tents from dusk until 8 am the following day, when they would be expected to pack up their things so other neighbourhood residents can use the park.

Overnight camping would only be allowed in parks that are at least 25 metres from schools and in areas that wouldn’t pose a fire hazard.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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