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Province's plan to clear campers from Oppenheimer Park gets mixed reaction

Last Updated Apr 25, 2020 at 2:38 pm PDT

FILE: A Vancouver Police officer is seen at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver's downtown eastside Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Advocates held a press conference expressing their disappointment in the announcement made by the province.

One city councillor is grateful the province has intervened with a plan to house the people encamped in the park

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The province’s plan to clear an encampment in Oppenheimer Park by moving residents to safe spaces in hotels and community centres is drawing mixed reactions.

Saturday morning, advocates held a press conference expressing their disappointment in the announcement made by the province.

Mary D — a homeless advocate — says some homeless people feel safe at Oppenheimer Park and says not all campers are excited to move into a hotel.

“I think they’ll just find another place to live. Find another tent to set up somewhere. And then they’re going to be moved again,” she says.

Tent City supporter Chrissy Brett explains there are some positives to the provincial order but she says the need for housing extends beyond the park’s borders.

“Are there some of the most vulnerable people here in Oppenheimer Park? Absolutely. But there are some people that are in need of housing more than people here. We need a way to ensure that the most vulnerable are put to the forefront.”

RELATED: Tent communities in Vancouver, Victoria to be cleared out with provincial emergency order

Vancouver city councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung has been a vocal proponent for moving campers out of the park, and into safer spaces. She says she’s grateful the province is taking action.

“If the silver lining is that there is a legacy that the province will step up, and provide that support for challenges that are far beyond the city of Vancouver’s ability to solve, and to address them — I think that that’s a good thing.”

She says making an order like this is never easy.

“It was a huge challenge for the City of Vancouver to deal with the level of homelessness and the associated mental health and addictions issues. And I think that the pandemic has shined a light on how challenging that is.”