No end in sight to Vancouver’s CRAB Park tent city


Almost two years after it was established, the encampment at Vancouver’s CRAB Park is not going anywhere, although many residents have moved out. Kevin Strome, who was among the first to pitch a tent in the Downtown Eastside park, said he worked with Carnegie Community Centre outreach staff to find supportive housing last fall.“I didn’t want to live outside forever,” Strome told Global News Monday.“The winter was pretty cold so I was like there’s no way I’m spending another winter here.”A couple dozen tents remain with the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park Board continuing to provide services to residents, including power. Story continues below advertisement B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said the province provided $715,000 to the Union of BC Municipalities, and the funding was recently given to the city, which plans to spend it exclusively on CRAB Park.Coun. Peter Meiszner with ABC Vancouver said $660,000 will fund four temporary full-time park rangers while the remaining $55,000 will pay for health and sanitation – including washroom cleaning, garbage disposal and Vancouver Police Department support for cleanup work. 2:14 Province working to get people in encampments housed The grant, according to the ABC Vancouver majority council, is for cost recovery, or to help offset money the city has already spent on CRAB Park.“We are working to decamp the park but the fact of the matter is we do have to have suitable housing to move people to, and that’s a challenge in Vancouver,” Meiszner said. Story continues below advertisement Meiszner’s party vowed to clear encampments and he said ABC Vancouver is currently doing everything in its power to return CRAB Park to its original state.“I understand people’s frustration but unfortunately this isn’t something that can happen overnight,” he said.B.C. Premier David Eby promised last November to act on encampments, stating they are not safe for anyone and he does not support them.In May 2022, a man was murdered in CRAB Park, and the encampment was the scene of a stabbing spree last October and a major tent fire in December. Trending Now Last month, Global News asked the city of Vancouver how much money it had spent on the CRAB Park encampment since May 2021.Despite providing the same information for previous encampments at Oppenheimer and Strathcona parks, staff said a freedom of information request would need to be filed to get the data.More than $3.5 million in city services and costs were associated with the 18-month Oppenheimer Park encampment from October 2018 to June 2020, plus Vancouver Fire and Rescue costs of at least $363,400 for enforcing the fire chief’s order in 2019. Story continues below advertisement 2:22 B.C.’s incoming premier to act on CRAB Park encampment The estimated city-wide total costs of the Strathcona Park encampment from June 2020 to Oct. 2021 were $2.2 million, according to the city.The UBCM grant, according to the province, is intended as interim support for people living in CRAB Park while a decampment plan is finalized with local stakeholders and all three levels of government.“The federal government is not there yet,” Kahlon told Global News Monday.“We’re proceeding without them. In the event that they join, that would be a bonus.” 0:34 Suspect faces aggravated assault, weapons charges for CRAB Park stabbing Global News asked the federal Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion whether his government’s plans for CRAB Park are aligned with the province’s promise of decampment, and how much money Ottawa has spent to date on the encampment. Story continues below advertisement Minister Ahmed Hussen was not available for an interview Monday and his staff did not provide a written response to our inquiry.Meiszner said he hopes the encampment will be cleared by the summer and everyone will be placed in adequate housing.When asked how humane it is for people to be living at CRAB Park, advocate Fiona York pointed to the lack of available and suitable housing, and likened the situation to a harm reduction model of meeting people where they’re at.“Unless there is that pressure for decampment or eviction that comes from the state or authorities, I could see the tent city lasting until there is that influx of permanent housing that actually suits people,” York told Global News.Meantime, Strome said he’s two months sober and will soon be living on the North Shore with two of his three sons.“I’ve made the necessary moves to move forward with my life,” Strome said.“It’s my job as a dad to be there for my kids and to get them back. At least my mom did that for me.” &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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