Half of Strathcona Park homeless camp to be cleared Wednesday morning

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An order from the Vancouver Park Board will force several campers to relocate from one side of Strathcona Park starting Wednesday morning.

In an effort to reclaim half the park, the Vancouver Park Board has split it off with fencing to limit the size of the controversial encampment. Campers on the east side can stay, but those on the west side will have to move over.

Donnie Rosa, general manager of the Vancouver Park Board, says she is confident there won’t be any problems when it comes to getting the campers to move at 10 a.m.

“We are going to work with each individual. Every person has a different set of circumstances,” she explains, adding some campers have already been moved and there’s only a handful of people left.

She says the park control bylaw that prohibits setting up permanent structures in parks and staying past 8 a.m. will be enforced.

“There will be no new tents allowed to set up in the west side of the park, and that’s what we’re going to be doing for a little while to remediate it and return it to the community because there is ample space on the east side,” Rosa says. “Either we get folks into housing or we get them into the east side until that housing is available.”

Dan Jackson, with the Strathcona Residents’ Association, says clearing the park is a relief for people living in the area.

“I’m personally delighted to see that people from the city are finally taking charge of this situation. I’m glad to see some active management on the part of the city going on and it not being left to the supposed leaders of the camp to decides who gets to do what. I’m happy to see that they’re getting some support services.”

The order to move the campers was issued last week after people had been living in the park for several months. Before that, the large group had been living at Oppenheimer Park on the Downtown Eastside for years. The Oppenheimer Park tent city was cleared in May, displacing more than 300 people.

However, Jackson says the solutions are coming far too late and something should have been done months ago.

“The fact that there are not winter shelters for folks in a city that’s been this brutally cold and wet for the last couple of weeks is just disgraceful. It’s about time. It should have happened four months ago,” he adds.