Homeless protesters set up ‘tent city’ at Vancouver City Hall
Homeless campers and advocates upset with the city’s approach to a tent city in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park took their message directly to mayor and council on Monday.
Demonstrators are upset with Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart for his statement that homeless campers who refuse to vacate the park need a “nudge” to move on.
The park board ordered campers to leave the park last month, and while about 100 people accepted units in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels, dozens of campers remain.
On Monday, they set up a mini-tent city on the lawn of Vancouver City Hall, pledging to “nudge” back.
Last week, Stewart also proposed that the city take jurisdiction over the park from the Park Board, arguing the board was “not equipped” to deal with the social problems underlying the camp.
WATCH: Future of homeless campers at Oppenheimer Park.
“I think it’s probably not the solution,” said Chrissy Brett, one of the protesters, adding that she wanted Stewart to engage in conversation and consultation with the campers “rather than using passive-aggressive media tactics.”
Global News has requested comment form the mayor’s office.
On Friday, the park board said it would not seek an injunction to clear the campers from the park, and called for a task force drawn from multiple levels of government to address the homelessness issue.
Brett said campers appreciated the board’s position.
“We really do appreciate the park board begin so bold and brave to say, ‘Let’s have a conversation with all levels of government and talk about solutions rather than injunctions,'” she said.
WATCH: Vancouver Park Board won’t take action against Oppenheimer Park tent city
“The mayor won’t really confirm that an injunction is what he would immediately do if he did get power and control.”
COPE Coun. Jean Swanson said the protesters were “doing what they can do.”
“I think what we need now is something much bigger than the city taking over Oppenheimer. We need permanent housing for everybody who’s homeless, which is over 2,000 people in Vancouver. We can’t even get modular in time for the spring. We need something for the winter.”
Swanson said the city needs to look at buying old hotels or setting up warming tents so that homeless people have a safe place to be with washrooms, sanitaiton and cooking facilities.
“We need to start on that now,” she said. “Before winter.”
Protesters say they will remain camped out at city hall until Tuesday’s council meeting.
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