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Park Rangers, police serve notice to tent city residents at Oppenheimer Park

Last Updated Aug 19, 2019 at 6:59 pm PST

Summary

The more than 200 people who live in the park say they have nowhere else to go

The city says it is working with BC Housing to find accommodations and has found about 100 available spaces

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Moving day is coming for the people who have been living in Oppenheimer Park on the Downtown Eastside. Park Rangers and Vancouver police officers were at the park on Monday morning serving notices to the more than 200 people who live there.

It was a tense scene, as residents told officials they have no place to go.

One man told the Park Board superintendent, who was speaking with residents as rangers tucked notices under tent flaps and handed them out, that he had previously been camping in another park.

“I was up at Crab Park and you guys, the city, told me to go to Oppenheimer. That’s what you guys told me to do. And now you’re telling me that I can’t live at Oppenheimer?” he said. “One piece of property could house us all.”

WARNING: Videos have explicit language.

The notices say residents will have to remove their tents and belongings by 6 p.m. on August 21, citing breach of a Parks Board bylaw.

The city says it is working with BC Housing to find accommodations and has found about 100 available spaces – that’s not enough to house all the people camping in Oppenheimer Park.

“Our priority is to support you in moving into safe, secure and stable accommodation,” the notice reads. “Carnegie Outreach team members will be in the park and can explain your options and next steps.”

RELATED: Oppenheimer Park campers negatively affecting business and safety: Strathcona BIA

In a statement, the City of Vancouver said: “The General Manager’s order was issued in response to ongoing concerns about the serious health and life safety risks present in the park, and in light of housing options being secured for those living there.”

The residents have been camping in the park for over a year, but locals have become more and more frustrated with safety concerns and impacts to local businesses.

“There have been 17 fires in the park since February,” the city statement says. “VPD has also expressed concern regarding the number of violent incidents occurring in the park.”

Just last week, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association released a survey suggesting its members are being impacted economically, as customers aren’t comfortable visiting the area along Powell Street, two blocks east of Main Street.

The BIA says they want to see the city come up with a plan to return the park to its original use, but respondents to the survey also indicated they wanted the campers to have a safe place to go.

Advocates have said they wonder where the residents of the 100 tents in the park will go if they are evicted.

In 2014, about 200 tents housed people experiencing homelessness in the park. Later that year, they were all forced out by court injunction and the City of Vancouver leased a hotel to house those who were displaced.

GM Order_Oppenheimer Park_2019-08-19

With files from Nathan Durec and Marcella Bernardo.