Wishing everyone a happy holiday and a healthy new year.
December 14 2020
The Vancouver Park Board, City of Vancouver, and partners are committed to ending the encampment in Strathcona Park as soon as possible. All partners continue to work on long-term solutions, but in the meantime several short-term solutions are underway, including providing temporary indoor spaces.
We have identified several properties that can be deployed as temporary indoor spaces to support bringing people experiencing unsheltered homelessness inside. City-owned sites include Jericho Hostel and 2400 Motel as directed by Vancouver City Council, with the use of the Jericho Hostel also recently approved by the Park Board. We are also working with BC Housing to secure additional temporary shelter spaces.
Our staff are working to activate these facilities as soon as possible, including applying for operating funding from the Province, notifying the surrounding communities, planning and implementing renovations, and securing non-profit operators.
“The status quo at Strathcona Park is not OK. We need a resolution to the encampment. I believe we are on track to do that,” said Camil Dumont, Park Board Chair. “In order to get there, safer, dry, warm, indoor shelter for the many people currently stuck outdoors needs to be made available. Securing that option is a significant challenge. Thankfully, this work is under way. It’s a complex effort. I am very encouraged by the work of our partners which aims to ensure indoor space that is as dignified and as safe as possible is made available to the people taking refuge in Strathcona Park. That said, there is still much to do. We strive to ensure that Strathcona Park will again, soon, be a space that is welcoming and accessible to all. We also need to help ensure people are as safe as possible in the interim, in the park, and in the community at large.”
Once indoor spaces are available for people staying in Strathcona Park, the Park Board has authorized General Manager Donnie Rosa to enforce the Parks Control By-law. The revised by-law enacted by commissioners in September still allows overnight camping; however, tents must be removed by 8am each morning. However, the goal of all of the partners is to work together and with people experiencing homelessness in the park to support their voluntary transition indoors.
Interim essential services
While work continues to bring the additional temporary spaces online, BC Housing and the City of Vancouver are working together to plan some interim essential services for people sleeping in Strathcona Park.
“We and our partners want to ensure that people have a safe, warm place to sleep indoors,” said Sandra Singh, General Manager of Arts, Culture and Community Services for the City of Vancouver. “This winter is particularly difficult. The combination of the pandemic and the falling temperatures is making a difficult situation even worse and we are in active discussions with the Province regarding funding to provide shelter and housing options as soon as we can. Of course, given we are in a pandemic, we will also engage with Vancouver Coastal Health to ensure we have appropriate protocols and procedures in place as we do this work.”
Fire safety regulations
In addition, a ‘Fire Chief’s Order’ was issued on June 25, 2020, to outline fire safety regulations for those living in the park. Enforcement of the order, or any new order, will include the removal of propane tanks and flammable materials, as well as ensuring proper spacing of tents and structures to limit the risk of fire spread.
Funding for permanent housing
Separately, we have also applied for funding of up to $51.5 million to support creating permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness through the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative, and are anticipating a response in the near future.
City staff also continue to actively work to house people experiencing homelessness at the park while these indoor solutions are being organized, with the ultimate goal being decampment into permanent shelter options. These efforts are in addition to ongoing work to house people experiencing homelessness across the city.
Published Oct 17, 2020 10:26 AM
“We want to be clear that hate and untruths in any form go against our Green values and our code of conduct, and we will always stand up against anyone furthering hatred and misinformation.”
Green Party of Vancouver School Trustee Lois Chan-Pedley fears the impact it will have on students in Vancouver.
“None of us can afford to shirk away from these difficult conversations,” said Fry.
September 18 2020
Stanley Park will reopen to full vehicle access and cyclists will return to the seawall on Saturday, September 26, after more than 5 months of modified access due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
The park was closed to all vehicle traffic on April 8, other than first responders and essential business partners, in response to the need for greater physical distancing in busy areas such as the seawall, and amid public requests for greater access to essential recreational space for cycling and walking during the early phase of the pandemic.
Park Drive reopened to one lane of vehicle traffic on June 22, following the province’s easing of restrictions and after businesses in the park began reopening. The seawall remained closed to cyclists to allow pedestrians greater space during the busy summer months when pedestrian and cyclist traffic in the park reached an all-time high.
Removal of the temporary Traffic Management Plan (TMP) will begin at 8 pm on Friday, September 25 and will continue through the night. The park will be temporarily closed during that time, to ensure the safety of staff as they work to remove equipment, traffic cones, and signage to restore the park to pre-COVID traffic access.
Two lanes of vehicle traffic will be accessible the following morning, with the exception of 700 m of Park Drive between Beach Avenue and Lagoon Drive, where current traffic patterns will remain in place to facilitate the City’s Making Streets for People program dedicating part of Beach Avenue to cyclists.
Full vehicle access to Stanley Park will be available at the causeway entrances and all parking will be fully reopened with the exception of the parking near Ceperley Meadows.
Once full vehicle access resumes and cyclists return to the seawall, pedestrians and cyclists will be reminded to be cognizant of physical distancing to ensure all users have the space they need to recreate safely. The Park Board will continue to monitor and collect data within Stanley Park.
The Park Board is currently conducting a comprehensive public engagement survey External website, opens in new tab to understand how Vancouverites want to access the park in the future.
The survey, which is accessible to everyone, closes on Sunday, September 20 and has had more than 10,500 respondents to date.
The Park Board is taking a thoughtful and phased reopening and recovery approach in alignment with BC’s Restart Plan External website, opens in new tab, and in consultation with various government and non-government agencies and partners.
Since May, the Park Board has reopened golf courses, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Bloedel Conservatory, tennis and pickleball courts, pitch & putts, skate parks, synthetic sports fields, basketball and volleyball courts, disc golf, roller hockey, multisport courts, playgrounds, spray parks, outdoor pools, day camps, childcare services, 24 community centres, four indoor pools, and some fitness centres.
The Park Board continues to review the feasibility of reopening other facilities and services and will make adjustments to its operations based on the latest information provided by VCH, the Provincial Health Officer, and industry partners.
For more information about the status of services and facilities impacted by COVID-19, please visit: vancouver.ca/ParkBoardRestart