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Nearly 600 campers moved into temporary housing amid COVID-19: B.C. government

Last Updated May 20, 2020 at 7:40 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

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government says plans to move people camped at several parks in Vancouver and Victoria into temporary housing amid the COVID-19 pandemic have been successful.

Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction, says 600 of the most vulnerable people in the province will have moved by Wednesday from tent encampments into housing where other support services available.

He says 261 people from Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park have been placed in hotels and “rehabilitation” of the park has begun, while 308 people have moved into temporary housing from Topaz and Pandora parks in Victoria.

Simpson says a small number of people have said they do not want to enter temporary housing and the province will not force them, but they must leave the parks.

Pivot Legal Society sent a letter to the government, outlining concerns about removing people from the parks, including increased risk of overdoses, inadequate care for personal possessions and the allocation of what is only temporary housing.

Simpson says that they are confident that the moving process has been comprehensive and compassionate.