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Dehumanizing and disruptive: Calls to end 'street sweeps' in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside


People living on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are calling for an end to so-called street sweeps, when city crews clean up debris each day, saying they're dehumanizing and disruptive.

A coalition of Downtown Eastside organizations and residents held a rally Wednesday to protest ongoing street cleanups, saying belongings of unhoused residents are often taken away in the process. Instead, the group called for the tools to clean up the area themselves.

"This practice puts into peril the life, liberty and security of people who depend on the things that they have taken away from them on a daily basis," one protester said during the rally.

Some Downtown Eastside residents are glad the city is cleaning up unsanitary sidewalks, but don't like the disruption, degradation and what some say is police intimidation during the process.

The Vancouver Police Department said in an emailed statement to CTV News Vancouver they will not be accompanying city crews after this month.

"VPD officers do not ask people to move along nor do they dispose of people's belongings," the statement said.

But some residents say they keep being moved and have nowhere to go, especially after encampments in local parks have been shut down.

Coun. Jean Swanson has a motion coming to city council next week calling for an end to street sweeps, saying they "perpetuate a cycle of displacement." 

Swanson is instead calling for staff to engage with community partners to develop an alternative cleanup program. She's also calling for staff to develop "appropriate storage facilities" for Downtown Eastside residents, including a place where community members can retrieve items that were "justifiably confiscated." Top Stories

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