Vancouver Continues Tent Encampment Removal in Downtown Eastside After Disruption

The City of Vancouver continues to work with residents living in tent encampments along East Hastings Street in what’s expected to be a weeks-long process to remove their tents and structures.

The process came after the city’s fire chief Karen Fry last month signalled the need to accelerate structure removal on East Hastings Street to improve public safety against fires or other catastrophic conditions.

“We acknowledge that since July 1, the situation on East Hastings Street near Main Street in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) has grown significantly more unsafe due in part to increased structures and decreased accessibility,” the city said in a news release issued on July 25.

However, many tent structures in the area remained in place on Aug. 10, a day after city staff began to inform residents to remove their tents and structures.

City staff has informed residents of the options to store their belongings, including city-provided containers, which staff would seal with tamper-proof labels before placing them in short-term storage.

A heavy police presence was deployed to the area between Main Street and East Hastings Street to assist the staff and maintain order.

The Vancouver Police Department (VDP) said in a statement on Aug. 9 that several officers were assaulted in the Downtown Eastside after the police arrested a man who was causing a disturbance at the Carnegie Community Centre, located on the Main Street and East Hastings intersection.

“Officers were called by Carnegie Centre staff just before 3 p.m., who reported a man throwing computers and behaving erratically,” the VDP said.

“As officers were taking him into custody, the man resisted arrest and fought with police. A large crowd gathered, and became hostile and combative with the officers.”

The VDP said multiple arrests were made.

An update from the city on Aug. 10 said the confrontation with the police at the Main and Hastings intersection “was not as a result of the City’s effort to remove structures,” and instead stemmed from the incident outside the community centre.

The city said staff aimed to approach encampment residents “with respect and sensitivity, encouraging and supporting voluntary removal of tents and belongings through conversation.”

“We recognize that some people believe the city should not do this work, but there are significant safety risks for everyone in the neighbourhood that the city cannot ignore,” it said.

The Downtown Eastside neighbourhood has long been struggling with challenges including drug use, crime, homelessness, housing issues, and unemployment.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.

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Andrew Chen is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.

The Epoch Times

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