By Mike Howell Published: April 6, 2021
The B.C. government has signed a “historic” but ambitious agreement with the City of Vancouver and the park board to end the Strathcona Park homeless camp by the end of April and prevent future encampments in the city.
One of the key commitments from the provincial government is written on page three of the document, which reads:
“To work with government partners to fund and develop temporary and permanent housing options to reduce the number of unsheltered residents in parks and public spaces to zero and to create flow in established shelter and supportive housing.”
The city’s main role in the agreement will be to provide land for housing or shelter “and to expedite land use decisions necessary to rapidly respond to housing need,” the document said.
Over the past decade, encampments in Vancouver have been commonplace, with Oppenheimer Park, “Sugar Mountain” on Franklin Street, a parking lot adjacent to CRAB Park and Strathcona Park being the most visible sites.
In the same release, Stewart reiterated a concern he’s expressed publicly since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, noting how COVID-19 has hit the city’s most vulnerable especially hard.
“It’s clear we need long-term, coordinated action across jurisdictions, and that’s what today’s historic MOU does,” the mayor said.
“It gives us a plan to follow, to get those experiencing homelessness into homes, with the critical supports and services they need to get back onto their feet.”
“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.”
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