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Flyer threatening to set fire to tent city circulating on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside


A disturbing note threatening to set fire to the tents and belongings of people sheltering along Vancouver's East Hastings Street has been taped up and handed out, triggering a police investigation.

The encampment is currently home to hundreds and efforts to enforce an order by the fire chief to remove tents and structures have stalled, largely due to the fact that there is not nearly enough alternative shelter on offer.

An image of the note was posted on social media Monday by Trey Helten, a graffiti artist and peer worker with the Overdose Prevention Society. He said someone was driving around over the weekend throwing the flyer out of a car window.

"Tents and belongings on the side walks will be burned with gasoline and propane canisters. Residents that live in the area will not let you to destroy your community any longer with your selfish. You have seven days to comply," it reads.

"This is a serious warning to the homeless in the area. Leave now or suffer the consequences of your selfish addiction. Insite: The safe injection site will be the first building to be burned down if the homeless and addicted human do not leave the area in the seven day period."

Sgt. Steve Addison, spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, confirmed in a brief email that an investigation has been launched.

In a news release issued later Monday, Addison urged people living in the encampment to "be extra vigilant" and report any suspicious activity.

“We are working to identify the person or people responsible for these messages, which have understandably caused fear and anxiety in the Downtown Eastside 

The order to remove the tents and structures was made by the city's fire chief nearly three weeks ago.

"Should a fire occur in the area in its current condition, it would be catastrophic, putting lives at risk and jeopardizing hundreds of units of much-needed housing," a statement from the City of Vancouver announcing the order read. Fire officials have since said there have been more than 1,000 fires in the area so far this year.

The note comes on the heels of violent attacks on homeless people in Metro Vancouver. A shooting spree in Langley left two dead and two injured, with the suspect in that case ultimately shot dead by police. The shooting triggered a province-wide emergency alert that described the gunman as targeting "transient" victims.

That same day, on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, police said a woman who is homeless was deliberately set on fire by an unknown man while sitting on the sidewalk. In another incident soon after, a man's makeshift shelter was set ablaze. Top Stories

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