City moves to break up homeless camp
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.