Vancouver parks commissioner John Irwin proposes warming shelter for homeless in Oppenheimer Park

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      A Vancouver parks commissioner wants the city to do something for homeless people living in a Downtown Eastside field.

      John Irwin is suggesting that the city should at least help the homeless keep warm in Oppenheimer Park in the face of frigid temperatures.

      Irwin has filed a motion calling for a warming station, noting that there are reports of pneumonia in the park.

      “While most people agree that tent cities are not a good way to live, when there is no housing or shelter available people can be safer in a tent city than being alone on the street,” Irwin wrote in his motion.

      Irwin is a first-term park commissioner with the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE).

      A warming station was first proposed by COPE city councillor Jean Swanson.

      Swanson’s motion, which also includes a recommendation to house Oppenheimer Park campers, is included in council’s agenda Wednesday (March 13).

      The two motions noted that there are 80-100 homeless people camping in the park.

      According to Irwin’s motion, the campers are “living with makeshift shelters, with insufficient bedding, lack of proper nutrition and no formal source of heat”.

      “The elderly and vulnerable are more susceptible to illnesses exacerbated by cold and may be already living with chronic illnesses,” states the motion included in park board’s agenda Monday (March 11).

      The motion also notes that campers “cannot safely leave their belongs to go to shelters, emergency response shelters, warming centres, or to the hospital for fear of having their belongings thrown away”.