News / Vancouver

Tent city residents protest dismantling of camp

The city gave residents a noon deadline to vacate the site at 58 West Hastings St.

Tent city residents protest the city’s decision to evict them from 58 West Hastings St. in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Oct. 25, 2016.

Wanyee Li / Metro Order this photo

Tent city residents protest the city’s decision to evict them from 58 West Hastings St. in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Oct. 25, 2016.

Residents in Vancouver’s tent city are protesting after city staff started confiscating tents at the 58 West Hastings St. occupation site Tuesday morning – an act some residents call “shameful.”

The city says it is moving residents from the tent city due to sanitation and health concerns. There have been 65 police calls, four assaults, and 20 emergency calls-for-service at the site since the camp started in July, according to a written statement from the city. Residents are being given the option of moving into a shelter.

But advocates say shelters are not a suitable alternative to the tent city. 

“What they are offering people is not housing – they are offering people shelter spots but its not even proper shelters you just sleep on a mat on the floor,” said Maria Wallstan, an advocate with the Carnegie Action Project.

“That’s not housing.”

This tent city at 58 West Hastings was set up on Jul 9, 2016 and the City of Vancouver started dismantling it on Oct. 25, 2016.

Wanyee Li/Metro

This tent city at 58 West Hastings was set up on Jul 9, 2016 and the City of Vancouver started dismantling it on Oct. 25, 2016.

Wallstan and dozens of residents gathered outside the tent city Tuesday afternoon to demand better housing.  

“What we want is real, dignified housing. No one deserves to be living like this,” said Karen Ward, a board member of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.

“Shame on them… it is not acceptable that the city government is having conference to talk about housing solutions then sends people to remove people from the only home they have known for three months.”

Vancouver is hosting a global housing conference from Oct. 24 to 29.

The city says once campers accept a shelter placement, staff will work with them to create long-term housing plans.

Earlier this month, the city unveiled its $70-million plan to create 250 units of social housing at the tent city site. Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson had signed a pledge in August to turn the site into 100 per cent social housing.

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