Advocates call for city to step in as homeless camp freezes in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park
Advocates for Vancouver’s homeless are calling on the city’s mayor and council to intervene on behalf of an estimated 100 people camping in Oppenheimer park.
According to the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP), as many as 100 people are living in about 48 tents in the snow-covered park amid freezing temperatures.
The group is calling on the city and the province to provide a safe indoor space, heat, hygiene and shelter for the campers.
“Shelters, emergency shelters and warming centres are not an option for many campers. Shelters are usually full, and leaving tents and belongings means risking having them destroyed by city staff,” said the CCAP in a media release.
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“Couples, pets and shopping carts may not be permitted. Campers say that shelters are violent, pest-infested and restrictive. There is really, nowhere left to go.”
The group says that that the snow and anticipated rain have left campers soaked, contributing to the cold, and that candles and fires are not available to the campers because of safety risks.
It added that many campers are elderly or have chronic illnesses like asthma or COPD that are exacerbated by the cold.
“CCAP has requested BC Housing or the City of Vancouver to house the tenters or at least to provide warming tents with peer support workers for warmth, health and safety. To date, no positive response has been received,” said the group.
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The group is also calling for an investment in permanent, long-term housing for those in need.
Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver has opened additional shelter space and warming centres amid the latest round of snow.
The city says more than 140 people used its warming centres on Wednesday night.
A full list of extreme weather shelters can be found here.
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