City and Park Board provide update on Oppenheimer Park

August 22 2019 –

The City continues working to support people experiencing homelessness in Oppenheimer Park into housing and/or shelter, following last night’s expiry of a General Manager’s order requesting that tents and other structures were to be removed by August 21. 

Approximately 93 people who have been experiencing homelessness and sleeping in Oppenheimer Park have now accepted offers to move into safe and stable accommodation. The City estimates this accounts for more than two-thirds of the people who were living in Oppenheimer Park at the time the General Manager’s order was issued. The City is pleased with the significant progress that has been made to date in supporting people to move indoors.

Tents and belongings 

Today, empty and/or abandoned tents will be moved to the edge of the park in order for Park Board staff to begin renovation and maintenance of the field. The following processes are in place for tents and other belongings in the park:

  • Any belongings that individuals might wish to retain will be labelled and securely stored for up to 60 days. A card with details on how belongings can be returned is being given to every camper with items in storage.
  • The City and Park Board will only dispose the unwanted belongings of people who have accepted housing or that have clearly been abandoned in the park. 
  • Given ongoing concerns about the serious health and life safety risks present in the park, Vancouver Fire Rescue Service will continue removing items presenting hazards to health and safety, in compliance with the Fire Chief’s order which has been in place in the park since February. 

Next steps: General Manager’s order

The Park Board is assessing the situation in the park and considering whether further legal action may be required to enforce the order. The City’s Carnegie Outreach team remains committed to supporting people as they move out of the park into housing and shelter options, and are continuing this work throughout the week. The Park Board General Manager’s order was posted in response to ongoing health and safety risks in the park.

The City continues to work with VPD to ensure the safety of all campers in the park, as well as residents in the surrounding neighbourhood. VPD officers will maintain a presence at the park to keep the peace, and respond to incidents as needed, but will not remove people living in the park without further legal authorization and notice.

Options for people living in the park

Good quality housing options remain available, with many units having been under renovation over the past few weeks. All housing units are in publicly owned and non-profit run buildings, including the SRO rooms being offered. Shelter spaces are also available once the approximately 140 housing units are accepted. 

Carnegie Outreach will continue to work in the park to support individuals to access housing and shelter, income and other support services. Parks staff and BC Housing are also working in the park to help move people into housing and shelter. 

Note to Editors: Information which was provided to people in the park today is attached for reference (118 KB)