May 10 2021 SRA Meeting Minutes
SRA Strathcona Encampment Update from Donnie Rosa (Park Board) and Sandra Singh (City of Vancouver) May 10 , 2021
Sandra Singh, GM of Arts, Culture, Community Services, City of Vancouver
Donnie Rosa, GM Board of Parks and Recreation
Stephanie Allen, BC Housing
Donnie – Park Board
A lot of work happened in the last few week – always intention to take a trauma informed approach, recognizing that the community beyond campers has also been traumatized – trying to see all sides has been challenging.
Well over 230 from the camp people moved indoors and closer to 300 in the area.
We always said we would evaluate every day after the 30th – more like every hour – knew some would turn down the offer of housing, knew some were suffering from mental health/trauma issues and that would take a bit longer. As long as they were working with us we would continue to try to respectfully house them.
Moving toward clearing the whole park – still moving a few things we are working side by side with them. Only a few remain. Oval is being worked on and most of the West side. We are in communication with the last few and have promised it would happen in a peaceful way. SRA was very clear that it had to be done respectfully.
Sandra – City of Vancouver
We had incredible support from BC Housing throughout the process – this would not have happened without them – the creation of over 300 spaces that were needed, and bringing the support of their operational teams and PHS – essential and City could not have handled it alone.
Andrea – BC Housing
So much of the work was grounded in the principles of reconciliation. Had reps from 3 host nations every day – principles to support those the least advantaged among us. No enforcement in the approach. Majority and overwhelming response – people are very happy to be indoors and have a safe and dry place to be. Recognize a lot of comments from advocates around housing policies and housing agreements as major barriers – recognize that the community and social connections made in the camp were important and that the initial settling in period would be challenging – to make sure the moves indoors were safe there were certain restrictions put in place right away – over time people can have guests – was to keep predators away – BC housing will continue to evolve the housing model to ensure people remain housed.
Grateful to have people out of precarious and scary conditions (fire), predators, etc.
Plan for the next week – people committed to pack up by tomorrow (May 11) and people to help them. Will be going in and further securing the area as in the other areas.
Timeline for returning park for safe use?
West side was done first to give back – now evaluating what the rest of the remediation will look like. Operations people will have an answer in terms of timeline soon. Oppenheimer took so much time because of how small it is and how intense the damage was – hoping it will be less intense given the larger footprint of Strathcona. As quickly as possible.
There is an increase in the rat population from the camp – what is being done? Park Board is aware and there will be a plan – Donnie will come back with an answer on that.
The edge of the Community Garden on Malkin had damage done from the campers there – gasoline poured on the ground. Would like to have the soil tested and remediated. Donnie will have the staff check on this. Soil testing was done on the West side – more will be done. In the case of the west side no soil needed to be removed but to be on the safe side a layer was replaced.
Strathcona School Parent Advisory Council:
StrathSchool is currently closed by fencing during hours when youth would be using the facilities – PAC would like to see certain areas unlocked from dawn to dusk, i.e. basketball court so kids can play.
Pac will communicate with Donnie to follow up on that – it should be accessible for the daytime.
Rumours that there is a camp moving to Crab park in addition to the one that popped up on private property on the 400 block of Hastings. What’s the plan for keeping the camp from re-establishing somewhere else?
Donnie: Heard tents were setting up in Crab Park – ended up being filming – did set up a ceremonial fire and staff went through some indigenous teachings and food was given out and when they were done they packed up and moved on. Will be ceremonial fires happening throughout the summer and Park board will continue to work with that.
A few tents went up at Grandview and as quickly as they went up they were down and we will keep on top and that – difference between now and establishment of Oppenheimer – there was no by-law – we now we have a by-law in place and can enforce.
Continue to have hundreds of homeless across the City and we will continue to see people sleeping outside until we have enough spaces for them – have connected with the private lot on Hastings – there are a few campers there – we do not consider it a growing encampment.
We do have additional shelter capacity opening later this month – other housing coming this summer. 2 hotels purchased – will be operating them as supportive housing – lots of stock coming online in coming months – check BC Housing websites for updates on supply.
Who to call when campers are not in park space but on City and/or VSB.
If you see a tent and you’re concerned and want to connect them, contact the homelessness outreach team at COV (311) and workers will be dispatched quickly. IN terms of RV’s – in discussion with traffic enforcement today – we have 8 active RV sites across the City in various locations (over 100 rv’s). Capacity is stretched – will start to work with traffic enforcement team – an ongoing challenge in many neighbourhoods across the City – now that Strath Park is clear.
Traffic enforcement (311) should be called for RV’s.
Notices of parking by-laws go to the owner – if they are working with outreach around housing the bylaw is suspended while City is working with them. May be the reason why you see them there longer. Typically suspend RV enforcement in winter.
RV’s along trillium – many more now and lots of garbage piled up
What’s the difference between permanent and temporary housing? What are the distinctions and how do people move between them?
Andrea: Once people are moved indoors, the plan is always to move them into permanent – BC housing does not evict people but conduct the work necessary to make a plan for where they go. Goal is that shelters is just one step to permanent housing.
Sandra: Shelter settings are not considered housing they are still homeless, (sheltered homeless) preferred housing are self-contained units for dignified living space. Hotels are not considered fully self contained – so a whole range but shelter is not housing. Temp modular is approved under a 10 year permit and at the end – people are transitioned into permanent.
Park Board will continue discussions with residents and are open to listening to residents to consider what the park looks and feels like and in the short term.
Where will dog parks be?
North East side of Strath will go back to being a dog park. Some conversation about times of day for McLean but not sure where that’s at – will need to engage community on that. Don’t believe any linear parks are considered dog parks.
The SRA appreciates the work of the team that led the decampment, and particularly the respectful way it was handled with very little of the expected push back. Recognize the difficulty of this job and are very thankful.