Is the city doing a cleanup or decampment in CRAB Park?

Commissioners with the Vancouver Parks Board reportedly “assured” the Gastown Residents Association that they would “clear” the city-sanctioned encampment in CRAB Park.

Why it matters: The City of Vancouver has insisted the intention to clean up CRAB Park next Monday is only a cleanup of the area, and that the residents would be able to return to the location in early April, according to CTV. Stop the Sweeps, meanwhile, say emails they obtained through a freedom of information request back up their skepticism.
  • In a news release posted on Twitter, the group said emails between the Gastown Residents Association and Park Board commissioner Scott Jensen, as well as city council members and senior VPD staff, were part of a pattern of “repeated dishonest and bad-faith communications” from the city.
“The language of a ‘short-term cleanup’ while commissioners have a longstanding promise of decampment is misleading to the public and it is concerning to us,” said Marcus, a Stop the Sweeps member, in the news release.
What the emails said: The email, dated Jan. 18, pointed to attempts by CRAB Park advocates to build tiny homes in the park, which was blocked by park rangers, and said the issue “is clearly escalating.”
  • “Your assurances to this group (Gastown Residents) seem to have completely disappeared. We were assured early in your tenure with the Parks Board that steps would be taken to clear this encampment and return the park to community use,” the email stated.
The group said trees and hedges would be added to the area around the encampment to “mitigate the community impact,” before stating that “NONE of this has happened.”
The city’s response: Stop the Sweeps didn’t post the response to the email, but the news release indicates they didn’t refute the claimed assurances, but seem to corroborate it. “I like your suggestions,” Jensen said in his reply, according to the press release.
  • In an emailed statement to the Lookout, the city reiterated its position that the move is a cleanup, and not a decampment, and that the cleanup is necessary for the health and safety of residents, and others. The statement did not address the FOI request posted by Stop the Sweeps.
Condemnation from community: In the meantime, residents will be moved to a fenced-off area, which community advocate Fiona York described on Twitter as “dehumanizing pens.”
  • The First Nations Leadership Council said in a news release on Monday that the “cleanup” of CRAB Park is “none other than a forced eviction” and called it the “demolition of a community,” according to CityNews.
It’s already begun: While residents have begun to move to the fenced-off area, they aren’t required to have left the camp until end-of-day Sunday. But in a video posted by Stop the Sweeps on Twitter this week, a park ranger is seen damaging one person’s shelter. 
  • The rangers claimed they had permission from the resident of that shelter, according to the tweet, which noted that the resident returned and confirmed they didn’t have his permission.
“Residents have until Sunday to leave. Their homes should not be under attack,” Stop the Sweeps said later in the Twitter thread. “If this were about cleaning CRAB Park, residents would be leading it, and no one’s home would be destroyed or attacked.”
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