Vancouver parks board staff and rangers move into CRAB Park to evict campers

Vancouver’s director of parks said the closure of the camp would be done “peacefully and respectfully.” About 50 campers were in various stages of packing up at Thursday morning’s deadline to decamp

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Shortly after a deadline passed to vacate a homeless encampment in downtown Vancouver’s CRAB Park early Thursday, several dozen tents remained as campers appeared in various stages of packing up to move on.


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Earlier this week, the Vancouver park board issued an order that would temporarily close the southwest section of the park for grounds maintenance. The board’s director, based on authority granted by the board during a meeting last month, had the legal right to seek a court injunction to clear out any remaining campers as of Thursday morning, some of whom had been living in the park since May.

As campers collapsed their tents and packed up belongings, park rangers walked around the encampment and City of Vancouver trucks and workers were parked in a nearby lot. A truck loaded with temporary blue fencing waited on a street nearby.

Park board staff said the intention was to speak with campers and “peacefully and respectfully” have them decamp and be placed in more permanent housing, said Vancouver’s director of parks, Amit Gandha.


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“I would say it’s a co-operative vibe and a positive vibe,” he said, adding that the intention was to clear the campers from the area by the end of the day.

B.C. Housing and the province had for weeks been “working with our non-profit housing providers, shelter operators and other community supports” to offer indoor spaces, and there are enough for all campers, a ministry spokesman said in an email.

He said there were about 45 to 50 people at the park as of this week, and outreach workers have “confirmed that between five and 10 people have access to housing but are choosing to tent in the park.”

Homeless camper Claudette Abraham with her belongings at CRAB Park.
Homeless camper Claudette Abraham with her belongings at CRAB Park. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Claudette Abraham was one person at the park on Thursday morning who said she had a unit in B.C. Housing’s modular housing complex in Marpole, but chose instead to occasionally stay at the camp.


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“This is my safe haven,” said Abraham, as she sat near a coffee table at the encampment. “I come here to basically rest up and have something to eat.”

Her Marpole unit is considered supportive housing and has a two-burner hotplate, a small fridge, its own washroom and shower, and a living/sleeping area.

Before she moved there in January, she had lived in the Strathcona Park tent city, which was cleared in the spring.

She said her unit was not someplace she feels she can call her home because “management are bullies. They go in my suite and take my furniture out.” There are lots of ants, and she said the food isn’t edible.

Abraham would like to have a place where her six grandchildren will be able to visit because the Marpole complex doesn’t allow children.


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“I do have an SRO, but I don’t like it,” said Jason Poitras, who also lived at the Oppenheimer and Strathcona park camps. “It looks like a jail cell. It doesn’t feel like a home. They just send us to SROs (single-room occupancy suites) and they’re full of cockroaches, bedbugs and black mould.”

Roger Fiddler, a crane operator who is looking for work, moved to Vancouver a few months ago from Kelowna and camped at CRAB Park near the water while he and his partner looked for jobs and a place to live.

“We hadn’t planned to stay here, but when we first arrived we said, ‘Man, look at what we get to wake up to every day for free,’” he said of the waterfront. “But the rangers come and wake you up every morning at 8:30 because we’re not supposed to stay here between 7 (a.m.) and 4 (p.m.).”

He was packing up his belongings, including the tent, a wooden chest, an alarm clock and luggage for the various clothes and other items that lay in a heap outside the tent.

Fiddler said he was packing up because “the police are supposed to be coming.”

The B.C. Housing spokesman said that more than 300 people living at Strathcona Park earlier this year moved indoors and staff continue to place those without permanent homes.

Roger Fiddler packs-up his belongings at CRAB Park in Vancouver. Campers were told to leave the park by 10 a.m. on Thursday.
Roger Fiddler packs-up his belongings at CRAB Park in Vancouver. Campers were told to leave the park by 10 a.m. on Thursday. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG



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