Homeless CRAB Park campers have no access to running water in Vancouver heat wave

There is not even a water fountain in the park, despite a city map claiming otherwise

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      Vancouver's latest blast of extremely hot weather is making life far more uncomfortable—and dangerous—for about 35 homeless people living in a Downtown Eastside Park.

      In a news release issued today (August 13), advocates for the campers say that there is no drinking water fountain in the park.

      That's despite a document on the City of Vancouver website that lists CRAB Park as one of many areas of the city with drinking fountains in 2021.

      This morning (August 13, Environment Canada issued a warning about a "significant heat wave", which will continue across Metro Vancouver untl Sunday (August 15) morning. Daytime highs will range from 29 C to 35 C.

      According to the advocates' news release, there have been repeated calls to the city's 311 line asking for a drinking water fountain but those requests have gone unheeded. It notes that a water park operates for a few hours a day.

      As a result, the campers, including many Indigenous people, are getting by with donations of water, ice, and coolers.

      On August 5, an open letter signed by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and several other groups and individuals urged the Vancouver park board and Vancouver Police Department "to cease the displacement and forced removal of campers".

      Another signatory, former UN special rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, declared that the "forced displacement of Indigenous peoples from the CRAB encampment is completely out of step with reconciliation and contravenes their human rights to free, prior, and informed consent".

      The letter cited articles 25, 26, and 29 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in arguing that the actions of the park board and city stand in direct opposition to their professed support for B.C.'s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

      The park board leases CRAB Park from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which oversees port lands on behalf of the federal government.

      Last year, the port authority obtained an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court declaring that campers were illegally occupying a parking lot beside the park.

      Those tents came down in April.

      The province, city, and park board have a memorandum of understanding stating that it's the park board's responsibility "to provide amenities and to facilitate outreach and services to unsheltered people when suitable spaces are not available".

      The advocates argue that "amenities" should include water, washrooms, and showers.