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Oppenheimer Park tent city residents urged to go to shelters during cold snap

FILE - Union Gospel Mission has offered beds for those displaced from Oppenheimer Park. (Source: Twitter/@ugm)

The Vancouver Police Department is asking residents of Oppenheimer Park to go to shelters while it's cold out

But officers say they will not force anyone to leave the tent city, which has been there for months

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – First responders are hoping the dozens of people living in Oppenheimer Park on the Downtown Eastside don’t use portable heat sources or an open flame to stay warm during this cold snap because of the risk of fires breaking out.

But Vancouver Police Sgt. Aaron Roed says officers won’t force anyone to go to a shelter.

“Definitely not, this is their own choice. But if it is cold in the park, we do recommend that they go to the shelters and stay safe and warm.”

He says officers are visiting the park consistently to check in on people.

“We do have a homeless outreach coordinator who works in Vancouver, as well as the Downtown Eastside and the Oppenheimer Park area. She does offer advice on the shelters – where they are and how many bedspaces we have available within the city,” Roed says, adding there should be space for everyone.

“Shelters in the area are offering additional bedspace, so we’re promoting people to go to the shelters, stay safe, stay warm, take care of your property within the park, but just get through this short phase of cold weather in [the] Vancouver area.”

It’s supposed to drop down to around -3 on Thursday night, and as low as -10 including the windchill, before things warm up a bit early next week.