Letter from Donnie Rosa
May 5 2021
Dear Strathcona Residents Association,
Firstly, we would like to apologize for not being able to attend your meeting on Monday evening. We had hoped to be able to provide you with an update on our work in Strathcona Park at the meeting, but unfortunately, we had to deal with an urgent matter related to the park. In lieu of our attendance, please find a written update below and we are hoping to arrange a new meeting with the SRA in the next few weeks.
As you are likely aware, the General Manager order that was issued for the park expired on April 30 and signage has now been installed stating the park is closed. Since 2020, almost 300 people have moved from the park and the surrounding area into accommodation since October 2020, including approximately 230 people in the last two weeks. Over the weekend, staff focused on installing fencing around the perimeter of the park with the goal of securing the park and establishing a controlled entry / exit point. We also began clearing up one area of the park where people who had signed waivers or given verbal confirmation that items they left in the park could be disposed of.
Unfortunately, a misunderstanding between the encampment leadership and staff regarding the deadline for removing possessions from the park led to some conflicts and means that some people are still in the park. Despite the City and Park Board being very clear that the deadline for moving out of the park was Friday, a small number of people did not move their belongings out of the park by then. Over the weekend, an agreement was reached that allowed people who had not signed waivers or given verbal confirmation to access the park until Monday. We have strived to take a trauma-informed approach to moving people from the park, and staff have therefore paused a lot of the planned work and agreed to an extension of the deadline to allow people from the encampment until noon Thursday to pack, remove possessions and vacate the park.
The events over the weekend delayed our planned work, but we have now repaired the damaged fencing and are striving to maintain controlled entry to park. We will be restarting some of the less disruptive work today, Wednesday, to clean up the park and are assessing the remediation needs of the park. It is the findings of this assessment that will determine how long the park will need to be fenced off for, but we hope to reopen the park fully as soon as possible. Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation staff are planning engagement activities and meetings with different groups from the Strathcona community to discuss aspirations for the park and we will provide an update on these conversations shortly.
We hope to meet with you all shortly to provide you with a further update, but in the meantime, we would like to thank you once again for your continued patience over the last year. We recognize that it has been an extremely worrying and frustrating time for many of you. We also want to thank everyone who took the time to contact us about the encampment and speak with us about this issue, particularly everyone within the SRA.
Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver | 604.257.8448
pronouns: she/her they/them
I acknowledge that we are on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Nation, the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)