Vancouver to assess possible court action against campers ordered out of park

0
346

The Oppenheimer Park encampment. File photo by Dan Toulgoet/Vancouver Courier

VANCOUVER — Several dozen tents have remained in a park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside following an eviction-notice deadline ordering as many as 200 people out of an encampment that began six months ago.

The City of Vancouver says it will assess whether court action may be taken to enforce the order issued Monday to residents of Oppenheimer Park.

It says about 75 campers have accepted offers to move into safe and stable accommodations and more than 100 units are ready for people who have asked for help.

The city says all the housing options are in publicly owned, non-profit buildings and include some recently renovated single-room occupancy units, as well as shelter spaces available as interim housing until other suitable units are found.

It says staff will continue working with police to ensure the safety of all campers and officers would not immediately remove campers after the deadline to evict the park.

However, it says items presenting hazards to health and safety will be removed by the fire department.

“The city and the park board will only dispose of belongings campers confirm they no longer want or that have clearly been abandoned in the park,” a statement from the city says, adding anything campers might wish to retain will be labelled and stored for up to 60 days.

Campers were given two days’ notice and ordered out by 6 p.m. Wednesday.

“Given ongoing concerns about the serious health and life safety risks present in the park, Vancouver Fire Rescue Service will continue removing items presenting hazards to health and safety, in compliance with the fire chief’s order, which has been in place in the park since February,” the city says in a statement.

The city says it has been working with the park board and the fire department to support the residents, but are concerned about limited compliance with safety orders.

Seventeen fires have occurred in the park since February and the city says police have responded to a growing number of violent incidents.

A team from BC Housing was in the park to help residents pack and move their belongings.