APPROXIMATELY 127 people experiencing homelessness living in Oppenheimer Park have accepted housing offers following a Vancouver Park Board General Manager’s order last week which requested that tents and other structures be removed by August 21.
Of the people who have accepted offers of housing, 37 per cent identify as Indigenous, and 33 per cent as women.
As the majority of the housing units have now been accepted, the City says it and BC Housing will continue to work in the park to offer spaces at shelters within Vancouver.
The City says it continues to have concerns for people sleeping in the park, given the history of serious health and safety incidents often associated with encampments. Vancouver Fire Rescue Service will continue removing items presenting hazards to health and safety, in compliance with the Fire Chief’s order which has been in place in the park since February.
The City continues to work with Vancouver Police to ensure the safety of all people in the park as well as residents in the surrounding neighbourhood. VPD officers will maintain a presence at the park to keep the peace, and respond to incidents as needed, but will not remove people living in the park without further legal authorization and notice.
At this time, the Park Board has not issued direction to staff to seek an injunction to enforce the GM order.
The following processes are in place for tents and other belongings in the park:
– Any belongings that individuals might wish to retain will be labelled and securely stored for up to 60 days. A card with details on how belongings can be returned is being given to every person with items in storage.
– City and Park Board staff will dispose of the unwanted belongings of people who have accepted housing or that have clearly been abandoned in the park.