Park board votes against injunction to evict Oppenheimer Park residents

Sep 27 2019, 12:51 pm

The Vancouver Park Board have voted against an injunction to evict residents living in tents at Oppenheimer Park.

At Thursday evening’s emergency meeting, the park board voted to commit to “the goal of voluntary decampment at Oppenheimer Park in conjunction with with the provision of greater access to safe and dignified temporary housing as a measure to help bridge the gap to long-term housing solutions.”

In late August, campers living at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside received an eviction notice from the city.

At the time, the city said individuals would be relocated to “safe and stable” accommodations as BC Housing had “identified over 100 units where campers could stay.”

Some campers left the park but many still remain.

In September, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart called on the park board to hand over control of the park for the city to handle.

Officials said the park has also become a site for increased fire hazards. A Fire Chief’s order has been in place at the park since February, which sets a number of regulations to reduce fire hazards in the park but the city says “compliance with that order has been limited.” There have been 17 fires in the park since February.

Last week, Vancouver police expressed concern “about the deteriorating level of public safety in Oppenheimer Park and the neighbouring area in the Downtown Eastside”

“Since the beginning of the year there has been a significant spike in crime and street disorder stemming out of Oppenheimer Park, and sprawling into the Downtown Eastside,” said VPD’s Deputy Chief Constable Howard Chow in a statement.

“We are seeing a substantial increase in violent crime, and officers have seized a significant amount of weapons, including firearms.”

According to police intelligence, gangs are vying for territory within the park, resulting in a “dangerous and volatile situation” for residents in the park and the surrounding area.

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