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City seeks to end encampment at 58 West Hastings

November 2 2016

Encampment at 58 West Hastings

The City has filed materials to the BC Supreme Court in support of an application for an injunction to complete dismantling of the camp at 58 West Hastings.

In addition to worsening weather, conditions at the camp have deteriorated to the point that it has become necessary for the City to take further action to ensure the safety and well-being of the dozen or so people who currently remain there.

Providing people with shelter space and ensuring their safety

In order to facilitate relocation of those still on site, additional shelter space has been opened at 49 West Cordova Street to ensure everyone has a bed while the City's outreach team continues to work with campers to create long-term housing plans.

For those at 58 West Hastings who wish to move to the additional shelter spaces, Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services, Engineering Services, and outreach staff will be available to assist people and their belongings. The City hopes to count on the cooperation of camp residents to ensure that this transition period results in a safe and peaceful resolution.

Since shelter space was made available to those on site on October 25, 2016, City staff, including housing Outreach and Engineering, VPD, and VF&RS have worked with individuals at 58 West Hastings to pack up, transport, and store their personal belongings as they relocated to safe and warm shelter spaces that were reserved for them. The number of tents on site has decreased from approximately 45 to less than 10 in that time period.

The safety of the campers continues to be a top priority for the City and, working closely with the VPD and VF&RS, the City has been monitoring 58 West Hastings on a 24-hour basis since the camp started in July, including daily visits from the City outreach staff as well as VPD and VF&RS. The City's Engineering crews have also made daily garbage collections from the front of the site and nightly cleaning and flushing of the back lane.

Despite these efforts, the camp has continued to deteriorate, posing significant health and safety risks to everyone on the site as a major remediation effort will now be required to clean up the site. As a result of this continued deterioration, it has become necessary for the City to take action. On October 21, 2016, the City provided notice to those on site that they would be expected to leave the site as of noon October 25, 2016, following the opening of the more than 30 new shelter spaces.

Background

Since July, the City has also worked with those at the camp on legitimate efforts to solve key issues - including the setting up of an SRO Task Force as well as the announcement of an innovative housing project at 58 West Hastings that will create a facility with about 250 homes (targeting 100% social housing at welfare and pension rates) and a 55,000 square foot integrated health centre.

Since the camp started there have been over 65 calls for VPD service to the site, at least four assaults reported on site, over 20 emergency calls-for-service to 58 West Hastings have been registered by Emergency Health Services and two Fire Chief's Orders have been given to campers for the removal of fire hazards.

Over last five years, the City and the Province have enabled over 1,800 units of supportive housing (94% completed or under construction) to house the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. Since 2009, the City has also partnered with the Province to open additional temporary winter shelter beds. These low-barrier shelter beds provide an opportunity for those living on the street to come inside during the coldest wettest months of the year. Over 1,000 individuals have been transitioned from the temporary winter shelters into more permanent housing since 2009.

The City has offered 20 sites worth $250 million to the BC and federal governments to build affordable housing. VAHA will pursue developments on these sites that will offer a mix of housing to meet the needs of working residents, seniors and families at low to moderate incomes. Rental rates for all homes will be slightly below market rate, though deeper affordability will be achieved if Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency can secure financial support through the senior levels of government and other partnerships.