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Rangers seize tents from CRAB Park in 'sweep and scatter' effort, advocates say


Vancouver park rangers enforced the removal of several tents from CRAB Park Tuesday morning in what advocates decried as a "sweep and scatter" effort to displace more homeless campers.

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation said the rangers, who were accompanied by police, were enforcing a city bylaw requiring most homeless people to pack up their tents during the daytime.

"We've had some positive compliance and we've had others who don't want to comply," said Steve Jackson, general manager of the park board. "And we work with those to seek compliance."

As many as 20 tents were removed on Tuesday, Jackson said.

Margot Young, a law professor from the University of British Columbia, came to CRAB Park to observe the rangers' actions, and described the city's approach as "simply cruel."

"It's an astonishingly inhumane way to treat some of the most marginalized, beleaguered people in our city," Young said. 

Officials began increasing enforcement of the bylaw last fall, and continued through the winter months even as temperatures plummeted.

There is only one designated area, located in a different part of CRAB Park, where Vancouver's homeless are allowed to remain 24 hours a day, and officials have expressed an intention to gradually reduce the size of that already-limited area as individual residents are offered alternative housing.

"As always, the shared goal of the park board and the city is to support those sheltering outdoors to come inside," the park board said in a statement Tuesday. "As people sheltering in the designated area move inside, the park board will continue to incrementally reduce the designated area until the whole area can be returned to regular park use."

Many homeless residents choose to camp outside rather than stay in the shelter spaces available in Vancouver over a variety of concerns, including cleanliness and a lack of secure storage for their belongings.

Advocates said more than 30 people were "forcibly removed" from the designated area of CRAB Park in March as the city conducted a cleanup, during which crews reportedly removed some 90 tonnes of material and debris, including 20 propane tanks and six generators.

The cleanup was completed on April 8, but the city only allowed 16 "intended users" to return to separated sheltering spaces that had been set up for them. According to the park board, two of those spaces have since been dismantled after "two more intended users moved indoors," leaving 14.

Fiona York, a spokesperson for CRAB Park residents, said the campers who were not allowed to return to the designated area are still waiting on a promised appeals process.

"A bunch of people have lived here for a long time and are not being given a chance to prove that, and that’s really unfair," York said in a statement.

On Tuesday afternoon, a park board spokesperson told CTV News appeals can be sent by email to, and will be reviewed within 48 hours. Only campers who were sheltering more than three nights a week in the designated area as of Feb. 26, 2024, will be considered as potential "intended users," according to the board.

Just four people have been housed since the CRAB Park eviction last month, according to advocates, leaving many others subject to repeated enforcement of the city's bylaw against keeping tents up during the day.

Michelle Gagnon-Creeley, a longtime volunteer in the park, said sweeps like the one conducted Tuesday lead to "trauma, disruption, sleep deprivation, loss of essential goods and disconnection from the community" for homeless campers.

"The reality is that until we solve the housing crisis, encampments are here to stay. What is the city’s interim solution?” Gagnon-Creeley said in a statement.

One homeless man, Sacha Christiano, said he was allowed to move into the designated area on Tuesday, but expressed concerns with the way Vancouver has chosen to deal with encampments.

"We're all normal people," Christiano said. "Everybody has difficulties in their life. There’s no reason to ostracize somebody, especially somebody in such a position." Top Stories

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