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Vancouver park board rangers dismantle temporary CRAB Park structures

Vancouver park rangers have dismantled tents located in a temporary area at CRAB Park on Monday, following an extensive cleanup of a nearby sanctioned homeless camp earlier this month.

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Vancouver park rangers have dismantled tents located in a temporary area at CRAB Park on Monday, following an extensive cleanup of a nearby sanctioned homeless camp earlier this month.

“With the relocation of intended users back into the cleaned and repaired CRAB Park designated area now complete, the temporary sheltering area on the south side of the park is now ended,” read a Vancouver park board notice issued Tuesday morning.

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Campers who had been sheltering on the south hill of the park were notified last week that the temporary camp was being shut down and that they would need to dismantle their structures each morning, beginning today (April 16), to comply with bylaws that dictate no daytime camping permitted in parks.

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VANCOUVER, BC., April 16, 2024 — Scenes from CRAB Park as park rangers and Vancouver Police clear tents outside the designated camping area in Vancouver, B.C., on April 16, 2024. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10104470A

According to advocate Fiona York, who was on site Tuesday morning, residents in the temporary area had been told by park rangers they would be on site for 8 a.m. Tuesday to dismantle any remaining structures.

“Yesterday, they verbally, repeatedly told people they were coming at 8,” said York, noting it’s cheque week and that many residents were off picking up social assistance cheques this morning and not on site at the time.

“This morning, they came at 7:30 and started ripping down tents. Zero warning.”

Police also attended but remained off to the side, as park rangers worked through the temporary area.

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VANCOUVER, BC., April 16, 2024 — A man packs his belongings at Vancouvers CRAB Park on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, as park rangers work in the background. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10104470A

York said at least one resident told her that they had lost everything in their possession, after it was packed up by park rangers. Other residents could be seen packing and carting away their belongings.

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It’s unclear whether the belongings were trashed or if they were sent to storage to be claimed; York said some items were spotted being marked and tagged, while others were loaded into a garbage truck. She said rangers did not seem to listen or respond when told residents were on their way back to claim their belongings.

Many of the residents in the temporary area had remained in CRAB Park in hopes of moving into the sanctioned camp, as designated residents in that camp were moved indoors and spaces freed up.

According to the park board, of the 16 residents who had moved back into the sanctioned camp, two have been moved to indoor spaces.

“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,” read the notice.

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VANCOUVER, B.C., April 16, 2024 — A man hoists his camping gear over his shoulder, during a Tuesday morning clear-out at CRAB Park’s temporary sheltering area. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10104470A

York argued that Tuesday’s dismantling of the temporary camp was unfair, as many of those approximately 20 residents had filed appeals, hoping to be included as a designated resident and allowed to stay at the sanctioned camp.

She also pointed out that many of the city’s cold weather shelters also closed as of April 15, leaving even fewer indoor spaces for the city’s homeless population.

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Last month, people camping in CRAB Park were ordered into a temporary area on the south hill, while city crews remediated the original camp site, moving out more than 90,000 kilograms of debris, 20 propane tanks and six generators. The area was then resurfaced with gravel before allowing designated campers back in.

Designated residents, however, say the sanctioned camp comes with strict bans on heat sources, and that no warming tent had been provided.

The park board’s notice says that residents are free to leave if they disagree with the strict requirements that come with sheltering at the sanctioned camp. The park board maintains the rules are in place to “keep conditions … clean and safe and prevent it from growing.”

-with files from Sarah Grochowski

[email protected]

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