Vancouver, B.C., Wants Homeless Out of Park

     VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A homeless people’s camp in a park in Vancouver’s poverty-stricken but gentrifying downtown east side is illegal, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation claims in court.
     The board claims in B.C. Supreme Court that defendants Brody Williams, Anthony Gauthier aka Anthony Guitar et al. have been illegally camping in Oppenheimer Park since July, setting up tents and other structures, and having fires, in violation of city bylaws.
     “As a result of the unlawful activities of the defendants, the board has incurred substantial costs and expenses and its reputation has been impugned,” the complaint states.
     The encampment started out small but has ballooned, with dozens of tents erected on park grounds, in protest of the lack of affordable housing in Vancouver, often ranked as one of North America’s costliest cities in which to live.
     Welfare recipients used to rent single rooms in the downtown east side, where many addiction and mental health service providers are concentrated, but many of the rooms have been converted into more pricey spaces, as the neighborhood gentrifies.
     The city tried to evict the first wave of campers after the first tents went up, but residents ignored the order, claiming the city had no right to evict them from unceded aboriginal territory.
     The Vancouver City Council formally acknowledged a few weeks before the camp began that the city is on “unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh First Nations.”
     The parks board seeks an injunction ordering the camp to be dismantled and authorizing police to arrest anyone interfering with its removal.

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