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Deadline comes and goes for Oppenheimer Park tent city campers

Click to play video: 'Deadline for clearing Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park passes' Deadline for clearing Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park passes
WATCH: The deadline for tent city residents has come and gone for residents of Oppenheimer Park's tent city to clear out, and not surprisingly, many say they aren't leaving. Julia Foy reports – Aug 21, 2019

Dozens of campers at Oppenheimer Park have refused to leave despite a city-mandated 6 p.m. deadline Wednesday.

The City of Vancouver says about 50 people have agreed to move out of their tents in the Downtown Eastside park and move into housing units in publicly owned and non-profit-run buildings.

WATCH: Oppenheimer Park tent city given two days to move

Click to play video: 'Oppenheimer Park tent city given two days to move' Oppenheimer Park tent city given two days to move
Oppenheimer Park tent city given two days to move – Aug 20, 2019

BC Housing says around 100 units are available for camp residents.

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On Monday, approximately 200 people were given notice to pack up and leave the park by Wednesday night.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a tough place to live’ — Vancouver mayor responds to Oppenheimer Park safety concerns

 

But by the time the deadline hit, many more said they’re not budging, arguing the camp is safer and cleaner than the single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel units being offered to them.

“I’m here to the end,” said Gary, a tent city resident who spoke on the condition he be identified by his first name only. “Not going to stop.”

WATCH: Coverage of the Oppenheimer Park encampment on Globalnews.ca 

Another resident who only identified himself as Billy said moving into supportive housing would be like “going to jail.”

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“They give you 30-day restrictions, they monitor your visitors,” he said. “I mean it’s nice to have a roof over your head, and beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.”

The city and Vancouver police have continued to raise safety concerns about the encampment, which peaked after a shooting across the street from the park in July.

READ MORE: Neighbours to Oppenheimer Park homeless camp call on city to speed up response

In a release, the city says the park has seen 17 fires since February.

Despite concerns from the campers and their advocates that they would be forcibly removed Wednesday, police were only on site to keep the peace.

Vancouver Park Board staff are assessing whether to obtain a special court order that would clear the park.

—With files from Julia Foy and Erin Ubels

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