Oppenheimer Park could reopen to the public as early as June.
The Vancouver Park Board (VPB) says that it’s aiming to open the west side of the park as the first step of a phased reopening approach.
“The park is integral to the community, and we are eager to have this first portion reopened as part of a phased approach,” the Park Board tells Daily Hive in an emailed statement.
Restoration efforts to the park are currently underway, including remediating the grass areas in the park, urban forestry work, repairs to the playground and fieldhouse, and the “restoration of historical and cultural elements within the park.”
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The phased reopening ensures that the necessary work is completed. The cost of repairs is estimated to be $450,000, not including the fieldhouse.
The VPB stresses that they want community members to “have opportunities to influence the outcomes,” adding that the board and the Carnegie Community Centre staff have had conversations with residents to prepare for the reopening.
“This includes discussing potential programs and services at the park with DTES community members, as well as other work such as the restoration of sacred items and cultural spaces.”
Last April, the provincial government announced that it had planned to move people experiencing homelessness into empty hotel rooms or community spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, for up to six months, before transitioning them into permanent supportive housing.
By early May, outreach workers offered all homeless campers in Oppenheimer Park a chance to move to hotel rooms around Vancouver. Once the encampment at Oppenheimer Park was disbanded, many campers moved to new locations at Crab Park and Strathcona Park.
Many downtown Vancouver residents protested the relocation arguing that it spread many of the problems seen at Oppenheimer Park across the downtown core.
Since the new encampments were formed, Strathcona residents and businesses reported a significant increase in criminal and illicit activity in their neighbourhoods. In early August, the Vancouver Police increased their patrols around the park.
The Park Board has not specified when they expect the entire area of Oppenheimer Park to be reopened.