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Coolers seized from Vancouver encampment during heat wave

A screenshot of a video posted to social media shows Vancouver park rangers seizing coolers from a tent where a person is sheltering in CRAB Park. A screenshot of a video posted to social media shows Vancouver park rangers seizing coolers from a tent where a person is sheltering in CRAB Park.
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Rangers seized two coolers from a person living in a tent in Vancouver's CRAB Park Tuesday as a heat wave scorched the city, the park board has confirmed.

A video posted by advocacy group Stop the Sweeps showed the incident unfolding, decrying the move as "cartoonish villainy" while a heat warning was in effect due to the risk associated with persistently high temperatures.

 

After several inquiries, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation provided CTV News with a statement – saying the coolers violated the city's bylaw on sheltering in parks, which prohibits "excessive belongings being kept outside of a tent." The coolers, the statement said, were empty.

"The occupant of the tent did not respond when rangers reached out to discuss prioritizing which items they wanted to keep in their tent. The rangers would have had no issue in enabling the coolers to be brought into their tent," an email said.

"The items have been stored and rangers are able to quickly return the coolers in the event the person wants them back. In the future, rangers will also consider whether to leave items such as coolers in the shared kitchen tent."

The park board spokesperson goes on to say that rangers are doing wellness checks, distributing water along with maps of the city's cooling centres and "actively taking steps to ensure people sheltering in CRAB Park are safe during the current heat event."

When heat warnings are issued, people who are homeless are routinely listed as being among the most vulnerable to heat-related illness.

"Long exposure to extreme heat increases the risk of conditions like dehydration and heat stroke. And worse—if you're experiencing homelessness, mental illness, health concerns, or malnutrition, the combination can be fatal," the website for Union Gospel Mission, which does outreach on the Downtown Eastside says.

A city bylaw says sheltering in parks is allowed overnight throughout the city and 24/7 in the designated area of CRAB Park. The prohibition on "excessive belongings" cited by the park board was one of a number of changes made to the bylaw

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/advocate-slams-draconian-changes-proposed-to-vancouver-bylaw-on-sheltering-in-parks-1.6832939

The email from the park board addressing the seizure of the empty coolers said "without regular and consistent follow-up there is confusion about the guidelines and belongings amass very quickly."

Advocate Fiona York is among those slamming the city's decision to continue deploying rangers to enforce bylaws and confiscate people's belongings at CRAB Park.

"Far from being a compassionate response to homelessness — this is tyrannical and terrorizing for the residents,” she said in a statement.

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