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Homeless encampment in Vancouver's Strathcona Park to be cleared out Friday

Last Updated Apr 29, 2021 at 9:37 pm PDT

A homeless camp is pictured in Strathcona Park close to the downtown core of Vancouver, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. The homeless camp at Strathcona park developed after city officials shut down the homeless encampment at Oppenheimer Park in late 2020 in Vancouver's downtown eastside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Campers at the park have until Friday at 10 a.m. to tear down their tents

More than 200 people have been moved to indoor housing from the park

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There are noticeably fewer campers in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park, with the deadline for them to clear out set for Friday.

Coun. Pete Fry lives in the neighbourhood. He says even though camps like this one have simply moved to different parks in the past, government now has some tools that it didn’t have then.

That includes a new agreement between the city, the park board, and the province that aims to prevent future encampments from being established.

“I expect that there may be … attempts to set up in another park but we have pretty clear understanding with the three levels of government that that’s not really going to be acceptable, moving forward, and we’re going to be a little bit more assertive in making sure that we nip this in the bud,” Fry said.

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The B.C. government has purchased three hotels, which can accommodate the Strathcona Park campers.

Housing Minister David Eby says campers can either choose to accept the housing they are offered or leave the park by Friday. Eby says there will be “difficult” conversations with campers, particularly those who do not want to move into more traditional housing, but moving from camp to camp is not a long-term solution.

Campers at the park have until Friday at 10 a.m. to tear down their tents, with Vancouver’s Park Board handling enforcement of the order to remove any temporary structures.

More than 200 people have been moved to indoor housing from the park, and Eby says he expects to house the remaining campers by the end of the week. Police and neighbours have complained about crime connected to the park, while fire officials have voiced concerns about dangerous conditions.

The campers moved into Strathcona Park after the Vancouver Port Authority won a court injunction requiring them to leave nearby Crab Park. They previously camped at Oppenheimer Park, which was shut down by the B.C. government after nearly two years over fears of COVID-19 spreading.