Vancouver Park Board seeking court injunction to remove CRAB Park tent city
The tent encampment at Vancouver’s CRAB Park could soon be dismantled.
The park board has confirmed it is seeking a court injunction to remove the roughly 35 tents at the park in Vancouver’s harbour.
In September, board staff began enforcing a bylaw that allows for overnight camping in park spaces, but requires structures to be taken down each day. Some campers moved out, and a section of the greenspace was fenced off for remediation, but several dozen campers remain defiant.
Supporters of the encampment gathered outside of the Vancouver Park Board office in Stanley Park on Thursday, demanding city officials stop interfering with the camp. Campers described the tent city as a tight-knit community, safer and cleaner than the SRO’s nearby on the Downtown Eastside.
”Right now, in CRAB Park, I’m comfortable,” said Alan, one of the campers. “I have a couple of friends there and they keep an eye out on my stuff. I don’t have to worry about anything going missing. No one touches my place.”
But park board spokesperson Jeannine Guérette said conditions in CRAB Park are deteriorating as winter approaches.
“The park board is pursuing enforcement of the Park Control By-law and are working with the city and B.C. Housing to ensure adequate shelter options are available," Guérette said.
One problem with that approach, according to councillor Jean Swanson, is that the city doesn't "ask the people who'd be moving what's suitable for them."
Camp advocates argue the proposed shelter options are inadequate, and that shutting down the CRAB Park encampment would only lead to tents being pitched at another city park.
“Now and then we get a vacancy in a hotel, SRO, or social housing, but we don’t have 35 of them popping up in decent suitable places,” said Swanson.
Moving to temporary spaces in city-owned buildings is not a solution to homelessness, said campers. Their tents will come down only when long-term housing options are available.
“Very few options are being presented, so people are finding their home there, and staying in CRAB Park,” said Fiona York, camp supporter and advocate for the homeless. “We don’t want (campers) to be evicted. We don’t want an injunction.”
If granted a court injunction, the park board will have the authority to forcibly dismantle the encampment. Campers who refuse to leave would risk being arrested. The board calls it a last resort, used only when all other avenues of clearing a homeless encampment have been exhausted.
Claudette, a camper at the former Strathcona Park encampment and frequent visitor of the tents at CRAB Park, says many of the remaining campers are Indigenous. She feels the idea of a court injunction to displace them flies in the face of reconciliation.
“There’s no equality. They call us First Nations, but it doesn’t feel like it,” she said.