City of Vancouver and B.C. government sign agreement to end Strathcona Park encampment by April 30

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      As a homeless camp in East Vancouver heads toward a one-year anniversary, provincial and municipal governments have established a formal agreement to end the encampment and prevent other similar ones from developing in the future. 

      The B.C. government, the City of Vancouver, and the Vancouver Park Board all signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that formalized their commitment to work collaboratively to end the homeless encampment at Strathcona Park.

      The agreement represents a commitment to preventing similar encampments from developing in the future “on a proactive and ongoing basis”, according to B.C. Attorney General and Housing Minister David Eby.

      In addition, the MOU defines the roles that each level of government will take.

      The province will work with government partners to fund and develop temporary and permanent housing options.

      Meanwhile, the city will provide available land and buildings for housing or shelter, and expedite land-use decisions to respond to housing needs.

      The city and the park board will enforce bylaws when suitable spaces are available for people to move indoors.

      The park board will also take the lead on organizing the dismantling of the camp. On March 30, the park board issued an order for all temporary shelters to be removed from the park’s northeast corner by March 8. A previous order issued in February banned temporary structures from the west side of the park.

      "This collaborative, institutional alignment helps with the current work being done at Strathcona Park, including the plan already in motion to end the encampment there," said Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation board chair Camil Dumont stated in a news release. "The role definition, framing of responsibility, and explicit outlining of expectation agreed to in this MOU will also help the park board, city and Province as we work together to effectively meet future challenges in the relationship between park space and homelessness in our community.”

      The memorandum sets a deadline of April 30 for ensuring that all people living in the park have accommodations.

      In February, the B.C. government announced the opening of two new temporary shelters, on Terminal Avenue and West Hastings Street, with 120 beds. Then in March, the provincial government also approved the constructuon of two new temporary modular supported-housing structures near East 1st Avenue and Clark Drive with 98 new living units.

      On March 31, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation promised to provide $53.1 million to create 188 new units of supportive housing (developed with B.C. Housing) in three Vancouver buildings: at 435 West Pender Street, 1025 Granville Street, and 103 East Hastings.

      On April 1, the B.C. government announced the purchase of three hotels, including the Patricia Hotel on East Hastings Street and two hotels at 956 and 1012 Main Street, for supportive housing.

      Factoring in recent hotel purchases and temporary shelter cities set to open soon, there will be over 650 supportive homes and indoor spaces. Almost 1,000 supportive homes opened in Vancouver over the past three years.

      A number of hazardous incidents have been reported to have taken place at the encampment, including three fires and two overdoses (one resulting in a fatality of a 22-year-old woman).