A homeless camp is pictured in Strathcona Park close to the downtown core of Vancouver on March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A homeless camp is pictured in Strathcona Park close to the downtown core of Vancouver on March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C., Vancouver and park board reach deal to end Strathcona Park encampment

The province has promised to provide housing by April 30

A formal agreement has been signed by British Columbia, the city and parks board to work together to end a 10-month encampment in Vancouver that has frustrated residents who lost access to a park in their neighbourhood.

Housing Minister David Eby said Tuesday the agreement will involve the province, city and parks board as they try to find solutions to difficult social problems like homelessness involving other encampments in the future.

Strathcona Park has been occupied since last June by people living in up to 400 tents. The province has promised to provide housing by April 30.

Eby said the agreement is a commitment to work together on an ongoing basis to minimize the risk of future encampments in public spaces.

Part of the commitment involves the city and the park board enforcing bylaws on camping in public places when suitable spaces are available for people to move indoors.

Earlier this month, the B.C. government announced it had bought three more hotels with a total of 249 units to help house the homeless. About 114 units are expected to be available soon.

“The reality is that the province can’t force anybody to live in these shelters that we have or in permanent housing,” Eby said in an interview. “So the message will be for folks that they are welcome to either live inside or not, but they can’t stay in the park.”

He said residents of previous encampments in Victoria and Surrey have been willing to move on when an indoor space was provided for them, and that’s what he is hoping for at Strathcona Park.

“My hope is that we’re able to reach a mutual agreement with the closing of the encampment. I think that with the stabbings and the overdoses and the attacks and fires, that the folks who are running the encampments are tired, too,” he said.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said in a statement Tuesday that “it’s clear we need long-term, co-ordinated action across jurisdictions.”

The Vancouver Park Board issued an order for campers a week ago to remove structures from the northeast side of Strathcona Park by Thursday.

Katie Lewis, vice-president of the Strathcona Residents’ Association, said she is hoping for a peaceful transition but is worried some may not leave the park if all their demands are not met.

“There’s been a real impact on the Strathcona community as well as campers,” she said.

Residents are concerned about the mental health needs of some of the campers as well as those who are struggling with addiction, Lewis said.

“We’ve spoken with many of them. There are people that have simply lost a job and don’t have anywhere to live. There’s diverse kinds of people there, people that have a dog and can’t find a place that takes pets.”

A group representing those in the park has said they want residences that are at least 600 square feet, that allow drug use and have no restrictions on guests. No one from the group was available for comment on Tuesday.

The campers moved into Strathcona Park after the Vancouver Port Authority won a court injunction requiring them to leave nearby CRAB park. They previously camped at Oppenheimer Park, which was shut down by the B.C. government after nearly two years over fears of COVID-19 spreading.

Vancouver

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

These two city-owned houses on Railway Avenue in the Railtown district will be sold. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
City of Nelson will sell two derelict houses in Railtown

Purchasers will be responsible for demolition and slope stability issues

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read