Fires destroy tents at Oppenheimer Park homeless camp
Published Saturday, December 7, 2019 6:15PM PST Last Updated Saturday, December 7, 2019 7:19PM PST
VANCOUVER -- The City of Vancouver is raising concerns once again with the homeless situation at a tent city in Oppenheimer Park.
The city says colder weather has forced many to break the law to keep warm, despite putting themselves and those tasked to help them in danger.
“We're seeing continued violations in relation to the fire order that was issued earlier this year, so we're worried about people's safety, “said Abi Bond, the city's chief housing planner.
“On the advice of our fire chief, we've heard that it isn’t really possible to heat a tent in a safe way.”
The city says several tents and belongings were destroyed by two fires in the park last week. Firefighters believe the fires were started by propane heaters and barbeques as people try to stay warm and cook meals.
The city says that people sleeping in the park have also tried to tap into underground electricity cables to power electric heaters, and say that firefighters have encountered “active resistance” when they ask people to stop.
It also said staff hauled away two tons of trash from the park in the last two weeks.
Vancouver police said crime has decreased at the park and, “police continue to be a presence in the area,” said Constable Tania Visintin.
Both police and the city said outreach workers are constantly communicating with the 50 homeless campers at the park.
“In extreme cold weather, people in the park have the option of visiting the warming centre which opens at Powell Street Getaway, less than a block from the park,” the city said in a release Friday.