City gives free cell phone to organizer of Oppenheimer Park protest

VIDEO: About thirty people living in Oppenheimer Park were served eviction notices, but the homeless are not budging. (Sun, Jul 20, 2014)

The City of Vancouver has given a free cell phone to the organizer of the illegal Oppenheimer Park protest.

Protest organizer Brody Williams received the older-model Blackberry phone as he does not have a cell phone of his own.

City of Vancouver spokesperson Tobin Postma says they gave Williams the phone to make communication easier between the tent city and authorities should any problems arise.

“It’s important from a public safety standpoint,” says Postma. “They can alert police and the fire department if there’s a public safety issue, and we can be in touch with each other easier.”

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He says the phone was pre-existing and there’s no additional cost to taxpayers.

The camp at Oppenheimer Park sprung up in mid-July. Campers say the park offers better living conditions than their crowded and warm SRO rooms, which are often infested with mice and bedbugs.

There’s no word on how long the camp will stay at the park. The city and parks board are yet to enforce Vancouver’s “no camping in public parks” bylaw.

Williams says the park is unceded territory and on native land, and the campers can stay as long as they wish.

This weekend’s Powell Street Festival was forced to move festivities which are normally held in the park, to adjacent streets due to the encampment.

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