VANCOUVER Mayor Kennedy Stewart wrote the following letter to Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon last Friday (September 6):
Dear Chair Stuart Mackinnon,
As we can all agree, the situation in Oppenheimer Park has become quite dire. I want to personally thank you for your work to give voice to the pressing social concerns that are at the root of the problems that have led to what is now the city’s largest homeless encampment in recent history.
Like you, my primary concern right now is the safety of people in the park, the safety of our staff, and getting people into housing. This is a city problem happening in a park and the situation in Oppenheimer is growing more difficult each day.
I also want to thank you for the Wednesday, September 4th notice below acknowledging that the Park Board will take my request to return Oppenheimer Park to its normal operations. As I mentioned when I made this request two days ago, I do not believe the Park Board has the mandate or resources to restore Oppenheimer Park to normal operating conditions.
That is why I am writing you today to repeat my request that the Park Board temporarily handover jurisdiction over Oppenheimer Park to the City under Section 488 of the Vancouver Charter. As we discussed on Friday, August 30th by phone, control can be moved from the Park Board to City Council by a two-thirds vote, first by Park Board and then by City Council. Moreover, I would respectfully ask the Board consider this request by or before the Monday, September 16th Park Board public meeting.
If the Park Board and City Council follow through on my suggestion to transfer control of Oppenheimer Park, it will enhance my ability to work with agencies, community partners and senior levels of government to take the necessary steps to move everyone in Oppenheimer Park who wants housing into housing and return the park to normal operations.
I look forward to your response.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart