Tent City & Homeless Crisis should be declared an “EMERGENCY” says Park Board Commissione

Oppenheimer Park currently houses the largest tent city ever, but this isn’t the first time the city has ordered the encampments cleared. Arlen Redekop / PNG
Residents of Oppenheimer Park and activists set up a camp outside Vancouver City Hall to protest their treatment by the mayor. (Kurtis Doering, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Residents of Oppenheimer Park and activists set up a camp outside Vancouver City Hall to protest their treatment by the mayor. (Kurtis Doering, NEWS 1130 Photo)

After the profound statement from Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon who said. “I’m asking the federal government, the provincial government, and the city to declare this an emergency — a crisis.” some of the people camping at Oppenheimer Park on the Downtown Eastside have made a move — to Vancouver City Hall.

They’ve to set up their tents in front of the building along 10th Avenue and Cambie Street to protest their treatment by the mayor.

Just last week, Mayor Kennedy Stewart called out the Park Board, saying the homeless needed a little nudge to get them to clear the greenspace. He said there’s little the city can do to help clean the park up because it’s under the board’s jurisdiction.

“Although we’ve had some success this summer helping people find housing, Oppenheimer is becoming more dangerous,” Stewart said. “This is the largest encampment we’ve ever had in Oppenheimer, and the most active – we’ve had 500 police calls, we’ve had 20 tent fires.”

In response, activists say they’re “nudging back” against what they call “the hostile takeover bid and bullying tactics of City Hall with a tent city on unceded territory at City Hall.”

The protest is expected to run into Tuesday.

“We are here to remind the mayor that the way to engage with people is through conversation and consultation, not through media statements, which is a passive-aggressive and bullying tactic,” the release reads.

On Thursday, the Park Board announced it would not try to get an injunction to clear the campers out. This came weeks after residents were told they would have to leave Oppenheimer by 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 21.

The board had said kicking people out of the park wasn’t a solution, since those living there would likely just move elsewhere.

“Simply removing people from Oppenheimer Park, which may force them onto the streets, the back lanes, and into other parks, is not the solution,” Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon said. “I’m asking the federal government, the provincial government, and the city to declare this an emergency — a crisis.”

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