Temporary residents of Oppenheimer Park fighting to stay

WATCH (above): Temporary residents of Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park have taken issue with the Park Board ordering them to leave. As Brian Coxford explains, instead of packing up — some are now staking a claim.

Temporary residents of a downtown eastside park are facing the threat of eviction and instead of packing up, some are now staking a claim.

On any given night, particularly during hot weather, there are at least 30 people camping out in Oppenheimer Park. The residents are escaping their DTES rooms or they are homeless with no place to go as they wait for low-income housing.

Regardless of the reasons why the people are there, the Vancouver Parks Board wants the campers out and served them with an eviction notice yesterday giving them 24 hours to vacate the park.

“I am living out here,” says one homeless camper, Johnny. “I am waiting for Native low-income housing. I don’t know what I am going to do if I get kicked out [of the park].”
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According to Johnny, he has been waiting for housing to come through for almost nine months.

Since the park occupants are facing eviction, they’re fighting back with the help of their friends. They are planning on erecting a symbolic longhouse, arguing the park is not ceded land.

“This is Indian land and we have every right to be on this land… it’s legal for people and all walks of life,” says Stella August, a First Nations protestor.

We just want peace and respect for our people and we don’t need this kind of harassment to our people.”

The park rangers did not return to Oppenheimer Park today and the board says it is monitoring the situation and taking a ‘wait and see approach’.

It is unclear how long the homeless standoff in the park will last.

~ with files from Brian Coxford

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