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City shifts to ‘providing information’ as Hastings Street decampment enters Day 2

Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver staff remove tents from East Hastings' City of Vancouver staff remove tents from East Hastings
Two weeks after the City of Vancouver first announced it would be removing a growing tent encampment from East Hastings Street -- staff have begun to do so. The original order came from the fire chief who says the tents are a major safety issue -- that could jeopardize other's homes. But as Jasmine Bala reports, those on the downtown eastside say they're not sure where they'll go – Aug 9, 2022

Efforts to remove a homeless encampment from East Hastings Street in Vancouver resumed Wednesday, with city staff shifting their focus to “providing information” to unhoused people.

The move comes a day after efforts to decamp the 100 block descended into chaos Tuesday, with both police and activists making allegations of assault.

Hastings Street near Main Street has become the site of the city’s latest encampment, with scores of structures including tents and tarps clustered in front of buildings on both sides of the street. Late last month, Vancouver Fire Chief Karen Fry issued an order to clear the structures citing fire risk.

In a Wednesday afternoon media release, the city said staff work trying to approach people with “respect and sensitivity,” and support the “voluntary removal of tents and belongings through conversation.”

Read more: ‘Compassion needed’: Tensions flare on Hastings Street over tent city clearing

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“Staff heard from community members yesterday that more clarity and information would be appreciated regarding storage and other services, as there is still some confusion regarding availability of storage options and other services,” the city said.

“We have concentrated our efforts today (Wednesday) on providing this information.”

Click to play video: 'Chaos as City of Vancouver staff move in on East Hastings tent and structures' Chaos as City of Vancouver staff move in on East Hastings tent and structures
Chaos as City of Vancouver staff move in on East Hastings tent and structures – Aug 9, 2022

While police were on hand during the decampment efforts on Tuesday, both the city and the Vancouver Police Department say a large police presence ± and subsequent altercation — later in the afternoon — were not related to the structure removal.

Staff at the Carnegie Centre called police around 3 p.m. to report someone throwing computers and “behaving erratically,” the city said.

A crowd formed while the man was being arrested, which became “combative” according to the city.

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Read more: Chaos erupts on East Hastings Street as Vancouver staff start clearing tents

Vancouver police allege several officers were assaulted during the ensuing “melee”, while area activists alleged the heavy police presence created a threatening environment and that officers used excessive force.

In the meantime, questions remain about where the displaced people from Hastings Street will go.

Unlike when the city cleared the Strathcona Park homeless camp, provincial officials have not stepped up with housing for those living on the street.

“I really don’t have any other options,” one man, who did not give his name, told Global News Tuesday.

“So I’m probably just going to stay where I am until they seize my belongings or they provide somewhere that’s adequate and safe to go.”

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