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A short trip to the Tent City of East Hastings as residents wonder where to go

The city said staff would focus on "highest risk" areas, but several structures in those areas were closed Wednesday.

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The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press

Tents line the sidewalk on East Hastings Street, Vancouver, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The city began clearing the encampment in the Downtown Eastside on Tuesday, but there was little difference to be seen the next day.
Tents line the sidewalks of East Hastings Street in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. The next day I see little difference. Photo by DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Troubled downtown Vancouver Wednesday The East Side tent encampment comes a day after city officials began a process expected to take weeks to remove the structure.

There's a good reason for that, said Edith, a resident who goes by the name of her Elizabeth — those who live in tents have nowhere else to go.

She previously said residents would move buildings closer so that city officials could clear the streets.

"It was like, 'Okay, cool, break the structure down and move the blocks down so they can wash,'" Elizabeth said. "But here, now, it's like we have to disappear."

Vancouver fire chief Karen Fry says extreme fire and safety risks ordered the tents along Hastings Street that were demolished last month.

The city said its staff would focus on "highest risk" areas, but some structures in those areas remained intact on Wednesday.

The region suffers from many complex problems including drug use, crime, homelessness, housing problems and unemployment.

According to Elizabeth, Tuesday was a tense day, with large numbers of police on the streets.

Vancouver police block a roadway as unhoused people begin removing their belongings and tent structures after the fire department issued an order to clear the camp because of fire safety concerns, at a homeless camp along the city’s East Hastings Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada August 9, 2022.
As uncontained people begin to remove belongings and tents Vancouver Police block roads at a homeless camp along East Hastings Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on August 9, 2022 after the fire department ordered the camp to be removed over fire safety concerns. building. Photo credit: JESSE WINTER /Reuters

Vancouver police issued a statement on Tuesday, saying officers assaulted them during a "brawl". After receiving it, several people said they were arrested.

Community center staff reportedly called the police and reported a man throwing a computer and behaving strangely. Police said the man resisted arrest.

Elizabeth said the police used pepper spray, which she said made people terrified.

An update from the city on Wednesday said the massive police force dispatched at the intersection of Mine and Hastings this afternoon was "not the result of the city's efforts to remove the structure. , was due to an incident outdoors. community center.

According to the city, staff will approach camp residents with respect and compassion, encouraging and supporting the voluntary removal of tents and belongings through conversation.

"While some believe the city should not undertake this work, it poses a significant safety risk to all nearby residents that the city cannot ignore." rice field.

Elizabeth stood near her sidewalk belongings she said she had been staying about three weeks after moving from another place nearby. .

"It's not like this place will last forever," she said, but she doesn't know where she'll go next.

"Regarding options here, there were generally club parks like tent cities," she said, referring to tents set up around parks near Vancouver's waterfront.

Tents line the sidewalk on East Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Thursday, July 28, 2022. People living in a growing tent community along the street have been handed notices advising that the tents and other structures are about to be removed.
East Hastings Tents line the sidewalks of the street on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in the downtown East Side of Vancouver. People living in areas with growing tent communities along the street were handed notices informing them that their tents and other structures were about to be removed. Photo courtesy of DARRYL DYC ​​K/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Elizabeth and many others living in tents along the street Like, she said she felt nothing. She is comfortable or safe in a one-room occupancy building in "terrible" condition.

According to the city, staff said she has had weekly meetings with her community-based working group since May and has spent the past two weeks with the Overdose Prevention Association and Vancouver her area her drugs. Her users say she has frequent meetings with members of the network.

Staff briefed residents on storage options for their belongings on Wednesday, the city said.

These contained up to two 360-liter storage totes, which staff sealed with tamper-resistant labels prior to short-term storage. According to the city, the tote has wheels so it can be taken away if the owner doesn't want to keep it.

There are also long-term storage containers nearby, according to the city.

Community advocacy groups such as the Drug User Network and the Pivot Law Society say clearing the camp violates a memorandum of understanding between the city and the province of British Columbia. The government and the Vancouver Parks Board have been told that people will move without being provided with proper housing.

It is to bind people who are not protected during demolition to their dwellings and preserve their dignity.

The City of Vancouver may implement an ordinance banning sidewalk structures "if adequate space is available for people to move indoors," it said. .

  1. A Hop On Hop Off bus on East Hastings St. on July 27, 2022.

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  2. Scenes from the Downtown Eastside (DTES) as the City complied with the Vancouver Fire Department's order to clear tents from the sidewalks for health and safety reasons in Vancouver, BC., on August 9, 2022.

    East Hastings tent city demolished again amid heightened tensions

  3. Several Vancouver police officers respond to a disturbance in the Downtown Eastside on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. (Earl Webber/ Submitted)

    Cops attacked by large crowd during downtown East Side arrest: VPD

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