Vancouver’s Park Board has voted to help those living at the Oppenheimer Park encampment find temporary housing instead of applying to the courts for an injunction to evict them.
The motion, which passed during a Thursday night meeting, will “commit to the goal of the voluntary decampment of Oppenheimer Park in conjunction with the provision of greater access to safe and dignified temporary housing as a measure to help bridge the gap to long-term housing solutions,” according to a Tweet from the board.
The park has been the centre of ongoing safety concerns, voiced by residents in the area as well as police and firefighters.
“Since the beginning of the year, there has been a significant spike in crime and street disorder stemming out of Oppenheimer Park, and sprawling into the Downtown Eastside,” said Deputy Chief Const. Howard Chow said earlier this month, after police released data showing that 223 firearms had been seized from the park so far this year.
“We are seeing a substantial increase in violent crime, and officers have seized a significant amount of weapons, including firearms.”
The Board is grateful for the Mayor and City Council’s support for housing and requests the City and its partners continue to seek housing for all who are experiencing homelessness, including the people in Oppenheimer Park.
— Vancouver Park Board (@ParkBoard) September 27, 2019
An estimated 200 people are camped out at the tent city. In August, after officials issued an eviction notice to the park, about 50 people had agreed to leave and move into city-provided accommodations.
At the time Vancouver Fire and Rescue reported that there had been 17 fires in the park since February.