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Strathcona Park tent city residents plan block party to educate neighbourhood

Last Updated Jun 27, 2020 at 8:27 pm PST

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Flyers to promote a tent city block party have been circulating in an effort to help residents in the neighbourhood understand why they’re setting up shop in the area.

After tent city residents were removed from CRAB Park earlier this month, they took things to Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood and want to host a block party Saturday.

Flyers to promote the event include an open invitation to Strathcona residents. Food, family activities will be included along with a panel discussion. Social distancing measures will also be implemented.

“You must have many questions and concerns regarding the recent tent city formation in your local green space. We agree Strathcona Park is not a long term housing solution,” the flyer reads.

“We hope this is an opportunity to hear some of your concerns and have some of your questions answered. All that we ask is for your patience and respect if you plan on stopping by.”

In an online newsletter, the Strathcona Residents Association says they are concerned about the number of assaults and overdoses around the park but as the association respects people in the park have nowhere else to go.

“We respect that they have legitimate concerns about homelessness that need to be addressed,” the newsletter reads.

“But we’re also concerned about reports of assaults and overdoses in and around the park. As COVID restrictions are lifting, and team sports and day camps returning, we need the park to be safe and to be available as a park. We don’t want to see the recent experience of Oppenheimer repeated and, as this camp has the same organizers and activists, we see no reason why it won’t be.”

The association says a letter has been sent to both the local and provincial governments asking for support and attention for the area to bring the “cycle of displacement to an end.”

“As representatives of over 850 businesses and 16,470 residents living in and operating across the district and community of Strathcona, we must work to strike a balance between the needs and safety of both the campers themselves and the community that surrounds them. Our organizations operate with sincere respect and compassion for our city’s current homeless situation and all those impacted by it, and with continuing mission commitments to serve the disadvantaged and underprivileged in our midst,” the letter reads.

“Strathcona Park is unambiguously the wrong place for government, through inaction, to seemingly encourage and endorse acceptance of this ad-hoc campground. Our collective community experiences from Oppenheimer Park show us that, with even the best intentions demonstrated by community organizers and the campers themselves, violence, sexual assault, and crime are inevitable outcomes of a community constantly facing displacement under the lagging attention of all levels of government.”

According to the letter, businesses and residents who directly surround Oppenheimer Park carried the costly burden of these community impacts and the association worries, “this cycle is set to repeat itself at Strathcona Park.”

“The issues are complex. So are the solutions – we acknowledge that safe, supportive housing is what’s ultimately required and will not be quickly found or created. But this cycle of displacement of temporary encampments in our public parks must and can end with a city-sanctioned site for campers, where resources and support can be directed and the surrounding community can be mobilized to ensure the best outcomes for all those involved.”

The letter sent to the local and provincial governments is on a timely solution to the matter.