THE City of Vancouver said on Wednesday that it continues working in Oppenheimer Park to support people experiencing homelessness into housing and/or shelter immediately. Approximately 75 people have accepted offers to move into safe and stable accommodation since Monday, August 19 when the General Manager of the Park Board posted an order on requesting that tents and other structures be removed by 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21.
The Park Board General Manager’s order was posted at the direction of the Park Board in response to ongoing health and safety risks in the park. Once the order expires at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the Park Board will be assessing the situation in the park and considering whether further legal action may be required to enforce the GM order. The City’s Carnegie Outreach team remains committed to supporting people as they move out of the park into housing and shelter options, and will continue this work throughout the week.
The City said it continues to work with Vancouver Police to ensure the safety of all campers in the park, as well as residents in the surrounding neighbourhood. Police officers will maintain a presence at the park to keep the peace, ensure public safety, and respond to incidents as needed, but will not remove campers from the park on the basis of the GM order.
While many residents have been connected with units already, good quality housing options remain available, with many having been under renovation over the past few weeks. All housing units are in publicly owned and non-profit run buildings, including the SRO [single room occupancy] rooms being offered.
Significant progress has been made in connecting residents with housing and Carnegie Outreach will continue to work in the park to support individuals to access housing and shelter, income and other support services. Parks staff and BC Housing are also working in the park to help move campers into housing and shelter.
The City and Park Board will only dispose of belongings campers confirm they no longer want or that have clearly been abandoned in the park. Any belongings that individuals might wish to retain will be labelled and securely stored for up to 60 days. Given ongoing concerns about the serious health and life safety risks present in the park, 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.