City moves to break up home­less camp

Vancouver Sun - - FRONT PAGE - CH­ERYL CHAN chchan@post­

The City of Van­cou­ver has ap­plied for an in­junc­tion to re­move a home­less camp oc­cu­pied by about 50 peo­ple in a va­cant city-owned lot on the edge of the Down­town East­side.

In an ap­pli­ca­tion filed Mon­day in B.C. Supreme Court, the city said the tent city is block­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the site at 950 Main St. into a mixed-use build­ing with 26 units of so­cial hous­ing op­er­ated by Lu’ma Na­tive Hous­ing So­ci­ety.

But de­fi­ant or­ga­niz­ers say the tent city, which was erected April 28, is pro­vid­ing home­less peo­ple with a safe and sta­ble haven, and vow to stay put.

“We’re go­ing to re­sist (the ap­pli­ca­tion for the in­junc­tion),” said Maria Wall­stam of Al­liance Against Dis­place­ment, a group sup­port­ing the camp. “It’s ir­re­spon­si­ble for the city to dis­place a home­less camp when peo­ple have no place to go.”

The city said it was forced to ap­ply for an in­junc­tion af­ter the campers ig­nored warn­ings and tres­pass no­tices. It said it needs to gain ac­cess to the site so work — in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal re­me­di­a­tion, soil test­ing, and drilling sched­uled to be­gin this month — can be­gin.

“None of this can oc­cur while that site is oc­cu­pied,” said the city in a state­ment.

In a let­ter to the city sub­mit­ted as part of the in­junc­tion ap­pli­ca­tion, Lu’ma ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Mary Ul­je­vic said the so­ci­ety stands to lose $1.3 mil­lion in fund­ing for the $4.8-mil­lion pro­ject if con­struc­tion is de­layed.

The so­ci­ety sub­mit­ted a de­vel­op­ment per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion to the city in April.

Out of the 26 units of so­cial hous­ing, only one-third will be at wel­fare rates, said Wall­stam, and that’s not enough.

“There are about 50 home­less peo­ple on the site, and more than 2,000 across the city,” she said. “We don’t care if we in­ter­rupt the de­vel­op­ment of eight units be­cause we need so many more.”

The other two-thirds will be split be­tween units rent­ing for up to 30 per cent of hous­ing in­come lim­its and units at “af­ford­able mar­ket rents.”

The city says staff is work­ing with B.C. Hous­ing to find places for oc­cu­pants on site.

The in­junc­tion ap­pli­ca­tion will be heard in court Thurs­day morn­ing.


From left, Joyce, Crys­tal Car­di­nal and Gina Bap­tis go over notes at the Main Street home­less camp. Van­cou­ver says the tent city is block­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a mixed-use build­ing with 26 units of so­cial hous­ing.


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