Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Homeless lawyers say Vancouver Park Board uses harsh and inhumane tactics to force tent dwellers out into CRAB Park

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The ring of blue fences that have been relentlessly tightened around a small homeless camp in CRAB Park creates a frightening and inhuman situation for those living in tents that have nowhere else to go, observers say.

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Attorney Fiona York said the Vancouver Park Board is abusing a memorandum of understanding between the county, city and park board designed to prevent camps and use drastic measures to intimidate about 30 vulnerable homeless people who were unable to be accommodated after the Board issued an order to leave on 9 September.

“It’s unsolicited to fence people in,” York said.

York said the memorandum of understanding drafted in March 2021 during the Strathcona tent city crisis reached too much as it left the Park Board to enforce the Park Control By-Law with the aim of preventing tent cities, and that suitable housing is still not available for everyone who needs it.

York said that on September 9, when the Parker Board tried to clear CRAB Park, 45 to 50 people lived in the park. Some got open “taxi coupons to nowhere,” York said, others simply spread, and housing was not available to everyone. York said about half stayed in the camp, and actions by Park Board rangers have become more “harsh.”

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“They added more fences, put a fence around the perimeter of the whole park, put fences close around the tent area so that it is closed on all sides with checkpoints on two sides. It has become a prison-like maze. Emergency vehicles must pass through two locked gates, this prevents access. ”

Installations include an enclosed fence at the western entrance to the park (in addition to the already existing locked gate), with ranger vehicles stationed at the gate 24/7; the eastern entrance is chained and locked, with a ranger vehicle placed next to it, leaving a small opening in the camp.

People walk along the path that leads into the CRAB park.
People walk along the path that leads into the CRAB park. Photo by RICHARD LAM /PNG

York said safe and secure housing is badly needed and care and consideration is too late for people who have nowhere else to live in the meantime. “They should be able to stay in a public space. A safe, legal space, not a cattle room. ”

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Athena Pranteau, who is from Cree Mohawk and Ojibway Heritage, was homeless with her 11-year-old son and two adult children for 348 days before finding suitable housing last week. She said Park Board employees put up fences around her tent in Strathcona and locked her inside by chaining it closed, mocking her original name and customs, making sneaky remarks to her, leaving a dog chain on a stick outside her tent. (Pranteau said she filed a police report.)

After moving to CRAB Park in June, several fences went up, volunteers with food and medical equipment were blocked from entering or having tickets, and residents did not have access to bathrooms or water, said Pranteau, who has returned daily. to the park to support those who do not have housing yet and participate in traditional ceremonies.

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“We’re going to hold our seat and stand out,” Pranteau said.

Athena Pranteau drinks her coffee outside her tent at CRAB Park in Vancouver, BC, October 10, 2021.
Athena Pranteau drinks her coffee outside her tent at CRAB Park in Vancouver, BC, October 10, 2021. Photo by RICHARD LAM /PNG

In a statement to Postmedia, the board of Vancouver Park said: “For the past several months, Park Board staff, along with our outreach partners, have been in contact with people experiencing homelessness in CRAB Park in an effort to support them in relocating. indoors. Our park rangers also play an integrated role as they provide an extra level of security for both visitors and people sleeping in the park. Examples of this include monitoring and performing routine wellness checks.

“As the signer of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Vancouver City and BC Province, the Vancouver Parks Board is committed to preventing camps in Vancouver Parks and is responsible for enforcing Parks Control By laws that exclude temporary shelters from being erected during the race. of the day in parks in Vancouver, when suitable indoor spaces are available for unshielded people to move indoors. ”

dryan@postmedia.com

Athena Pranteau cleans up her tent at CRAB Park in Vancouver, BC, October 10, 2021.
Athena Pranteau cleans up her tent at CRAB Park in Vancouver, BC, October 10, 2021. Photo by RICHARD LAM /PNG

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