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Crews remove 153 propane tanks, begin pulling down structures in Vancouver's Vanier Park

Park rangers and sanitation crews removed more than 150 propane tanks from an encampment on Vancouver’s west side Tuesday, and began pulling down structures.

It’s at least the third major cleanup effort in Vanier Park this year, with campers continuing to defy orders to leave.

The Vancouver Park Board allows temporary tents and structures in parks overnight, but those temporary shelters have to be packed up by morning.

In March, campers were given notices to leave and at least 20 propane tanks were removed. In June, another 88 were recovered.

Flammable materials have been a major concern for officials. Matthew Trudeau with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services told CTV News in an email that through July and August there were three fires involving tents in the encampment.

In addition to the propane tanks found Tuesday, crews also removed at least five boat batteries, a beer keg, numerous bicycle parts, suitcases, needles, and dozens of truckloads of garbage.

For the first time this year, City of Vancouver sanitation crews also brought in a garbage truck to begin removing structures that had become permanent fixtures in the park. It’s unclear how many people are still living there full time, but the structures pulled down Tuesday were empty.

A man who said his name is Tree and didn't give a last name told CTV News he has visited the park “on and off for about four years.” He said he was trying to clean up the area.

“We got a little bit of a mess going on here, just us, as people, we’re pretty messy and I don't like that,” Tree said. “It looks like Woodstock '94 over there.”

Tree said he’s been in and out of different housing situations and was evicted from his most recent SRO accommodation after an interaction with the building owner.

“The inside window, I smashed it (because) Linda was making fun of me,” he told CTV News, adding that he had been offered housing.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said there is no “cookie-cutter solution” to homeless encampments in parks, but assured the city was working on finding ways to help people living in parks.

“It’s something that we talk about every day from a very empathetic and compassionate lens. How do we come up with solutions so these encampments don't exist?” Sim told CTV News. “We need more supportive housing for the people who need it most. And so we’re working with senior levels of government.”

At least two large structures still remain in Vanier Park and it’s unclear what the plan is moving forward.

In a statement, the park board said rangers will continue to attend Vanier Park daily “and work towards compliance with the park control bylaw to ensure residents and park-goers are safe.”

Crews on site told CTV News they will be back next week with a front-loader. Top Stories

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