City of Vancouver plans to remove all tents on East Hastings today (PHOTOS)

Apr 5 2023, 4:24 pm

The City of Vancouver plans to bring the encampment on East Hastings Street to a close today and will remove all remaining tents and structures in the area.

A release from the City of Vancouver states that members of the Vancouver Police Department will be assisting City staff in removing the tents and structures.

VPD’s presence will ensure staff safety as they “do their work and enforce the Streets and Traffic Bylaw as necessary.”

City crews have been working to address the structures on East Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside since Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry issued an order in July 2022.

The City of Vancouver states that the encampment poses a “persistent fire risk” and points out that there have been several fires in recent months that have made the situation on Hastings “even more precarious.”

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said, “We need to restore Hastings as a street that is safe and welcoming to everyone.”

Fry attended the conference and went into detail about the risks the encampment poses, referencing a recent incident where a propane tank that had exploded and damaged a building.

The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) has already begun tweeting pictures of a significant police presence on East Hastings Street.

On top of the fire risk outlined by the City, the VPD had also raised concerns about sexual violence in the area, as well as a 9% increase in assaults in the Downtown Eastside since the encampment began last August, suggesting the encampment zone accounts for 28% of all assaults. The VPD also noted an increase in weapons from tents in the area.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer also spoke at the conference, reiterating that the VPD presence is to ensure City staff are safe, but added that officers would step in if violence or law-breaking occurred.

“The City appreciates the cooperation and understanding of the community during this time, as we work towards a compassionate resolution that reflects the City’s commitment to public safety.”

The City also encourages people sheltering along East Hastings Street to accept shelter offers.

“While shelters are far from ideal, they provide a safer option than sheltering in an entrenched encampment.”

Protests break out

In response to the clearing of tents, protests have emerged to put a stop to the sweeps .

Vancouver police said the group of demonstrators has “encroached on the safe work space of City of Vancouver workers and is attempting to stop their progress.”

VPD officers are asking the group to move back,” a tweet reads.


Police added that demonstrators “begun throwing projectiles” and sprayed officers with fire extinguishers.

One person has been taken into custody.

 

 

With files from Nikitha Martins

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