We would like to update you on what we know about the encampment in Strathcona Park.
The SRA has been visiting the encampment and talking with camp organizers. They agree that Strathcona Park is not a sustainable place for a camp that large and would prefer a sanctioned location with adequate facilities, but so far, no level of government is offering one. We respect that they have legitimate concerns about homelessness that need to be addressed.
But we're also concerned about reports of assaults and overdoses in and around the park. As Covid restrictions are lifting, and team sports and day camps returning, we need the park to be safe and to be available as a park. We don't want to see the recent experience of Oppenheimer repeated and, as this camp has the same organizers and activists, we see no reason why it won't be.
Our elected officials, at all levels, need to show up and address these problems openly and soon. They were elected to make hard decisions, not avoid them.
The SRA has joined with the SBIA, the Produce Row Business Committee and the Community Policing Centre to send a letter to all levels of government asking "to immediately clear Strathcona Park of its current encampment and identify a permanent site for campers, therefore bringing the cycle of displacement to an end." Here's the full letter.
The SRA has reached out to the Park Board, CoV and our MLAs. Much talk seems to be going on behind the scenes, but so far, all we're hearing is "they'll probably be there through the summer."
So what can you do?
Post online. There have been many postings on various Facebook groups about the encampment. These postings are being closely monitored by activists, which offers an opportunity to vent and argue, but also, far more productively, to ask questions, to express concerns and to hear other perspectives. If you'd like to be part of this online discussion, we encourage you to use SRA Facebook Group.
Send an e-mail. Elected officials are sensitive to the concerns of voters. So let them know how you feel and how the encampment impacts you personally. Keep the pressure on them. Below is a list of e-mails. Cut and paste it.
Visit the camp. Camp K-T, as organizers are calling it, is inviting residents to a "block party" all day this Saturday by the bandstand in Strathcona Park. We're told Park Board members and other officials might be there for a panel discussion at 3 PM. As we're still in a pandemic, we remind you to take precautions and be responsible for your own safety.
We're exploring options for a July SRA meeting. We'll do our best to keep to informed. Please share this e-mail with neighbours and friends in Strathcona and invite them to join the SRA so they can get these postings.
Below are the e-mails of your MP, MLAs, mayor, city councillors, park board commissioners and other officials.