A homeless camp is pictured in Strathcona Park close to the downtown core of Vancouver on March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A homeless camp is pictured in Strathcona Park close to the downtown core of Vancouver on March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C., Vancouver and park board reach deal to end Strathcona Park encampment

The province has promised to provide housing by April 30

A formal agreement has been signed by British Columbia, the city and parks board to work together to end a 10-month encampment in Vancouver that has frustrated residents who lost access to a park in their neighbourhood.

Housing Minister David Eby said Tuesday the agreement will involve the province, city and parks board as they try to find solutions to difficult social problems like homelessness involving other encampments in the future.

Strathcona Park has been occupied since last June by people living in up to 400 tents. The province has promised to provide housing by April 30.

Eby said the agreement is a commitment to work together on an ongoing basis to minimize the risk of future encampments in public spaces.

Part of the commitment involves the city and the park board enforcing bylaws on camping in public places when suitable spaces are available for people to move indoors.

Earlier this month, the B.C. government announced it had bought three more hotels with a total of 249 units to help house the homeless. About 114 units are expected to be available soon.

“The reality is that the province can’t force anybody to live in these shelters that we have or in permanent housing,” Eby said in an interview. “So the message will be for folks that they are welcome to either live inside or not, but they can’t stay in the park.”

He said residents of previous encampments in Victoria and Surrey have been willing to move on when an indoor space was provided for them, and that’s what he is hoping for at Strathcona Park.

“My hope is that we’re able to reach a mutual agreement with the closing of the encampment. I think that with the stabbings and the overdoses and the attacks and fires, that the folks who are running the encampments are tired, too,” he said.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said in a statement Tuesday that “it’s clear we need long-term, co-ordinated action across jurisdictions.”

The Vancouver Park Board issued an order for campers a week ago to remove structures from the northeast side of Strathcona Park by Thursday.

Katie Lewis, vice-president of the Strathcona Residents’ Association, said she is hoping for a peaceful transition but is worried some may not leave the park if all their demands are not met.

“There’s been a real impact on the Strathcona community as well as campers,” she said.

Residents are concerned about the mental health needs of some of the campers as well as those who are struggling with addiction, Lewis said.

“We’ve spoken with many of them. There are people that have simply lost a job and don’t have anywhere to live. There’s diverse kinds of people there, people that have a dog and can’t find a place that takes pets.”

A group representing those in the park has said they want residences that are at least 600 square feet, that allow drug use and have no restrictions on guests. No one from the group was available for comment on Tuesday.

The campers moved into Strathcona Park after the Vancouver Port Authority won a court injunction requiring them to leave nearby CRAB park. They previously camped at Oppenheimer Park, which was shut down by the B.C. government after nearly two years over fears of COVID-19 spreading.

Vancouver

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A horse and driver cruise around the track at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale Sept. 14, 2020 amid smoke from U.S. forest fires. Harness Racing B.C. announced it’s halting the spring season two weeks early because of a lack of money and says racing won’t continue in September without and influx of cash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs

Spring season ends early, 135 workers out of jobs

An agreement between the City and the Langley Lions Housing Society would set out income and age requirements for the new Birch replacement building (Langley City image)
Langley Lions housing project gets go-ahead from City council

An eight-storey structure will replace the fire-gutted original Birch building

B.C.’s Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
‘Stereotypes’ not an issue in Langley sex assault ruling, Court of Appeal says

The Court of Appeal upheld a conviction in two attacks on a 17-year-old

The Langley School District issues COVID-19 notifications when cases are discovered at local public school. Fraser Health handles contact tracing and all medical aspects for all local schools. (Langley Schools)
Two Langley schools added to COVID list

Fraser Health posts the names of public and private schools online when there’s been exposure

Florence Song (left), Amy Saya, and Chanhee Park participated in sustainability week at TWU by selling clothes to benefit charities. (TWU’s Winnie Lui/Special to Langley Advance Times)
TWU students turning used clothes and goods into cash

During sustainability week the university fundraises to benefit young entrepreneurs and charities

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
Archibald bowl near Chilliwack. (Submitted)
Cheam First Nation ‘shocked’ over all-season mountain resort proposal near Chilliwack

For five years the band has been working on a gondola project of their own

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Road rager fails breathalyzer on busy B.C. highway in vehicle he shouldn’t be driving

Saanich police say man was operating vehicle without required ignition lock

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read