City and Park Board provide update on Oppenheimer Park

August 23 2019 –

More than 119 people experiencing homelessness living in Oppenheimer Park have accepted housing offers following a Park Board General Manager’s order this week which requested that tents and other structures be removed by August 21. Of the people who have accepted offers of housing, 38% identify as Indigenous, and 34% as women. 

The City plans to work with approximately 30 additional people in the park to accept offers for the remaining homes today. A number of shelter spaces are also available for anyone else still sleeping in the park. 

The City’s Carnegie Outreach team remains committed to supporting people as they move out of the park into housing and shelter options, and will continue this work.

The City continues to work with VPD to ensure the safety of all people 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.

At this time, the Park Board has not issued direction to staff to seek an injunction to enforce the GM order.  

Restoring the park

As people move out of the park and into housing and shelter, anyone still sleeping in the park will be directed to move their tents to the perimeter of the park. Today, staff will begin to section off parts of the park in order to start the process of restoring the turf, playground and other park amenities. While grass areas may be closed for repairs, all pathways, walkways and sidewalk areas will remain open. 

Tents and belongings 

Empty and/or abandoned tents will be moved to the edge of the park in order for staff to begin fencing off sections in the centre. 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 person with items in storage.
  • City and Park Board staff will dispose of 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. 

Note to Editors: Information which was provided to people in the park today is attached for reference (120 KB)