VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Homeless people staying in CRAB Park were surrounded by a red fence, with a single entrance and three checkpoints monitored 24/7 by park rangers.
CRAB Park activist Fiona York describes the facility as “the latest in a series of increasingly tough state-sanctioned intimidation and enforcement tactics against homeless people staying at CRAB Park” .
There are currently about 35 people staying at CRAB Park, York says.
âThe fenced area now completely surrounds the space used by the homeless. The fence is chained and padlocked with the exception of a small opening, restricting access to both inside and outside residents and emergency vehicles, âYork wrote in a published press release. October 8.
Called @CityofVancouver ask why #CrabPark is almost completely fenced. They said “suppose it’s to take care of another * potential * homeless camp”. I certainly hope that’s not the reason they’re blocking a public park!
– Carrie Bercic (@CarrieBercic) July 26, 2021
She says a ranger on Wednesday interrupted a regular weekly food delivery from a community organization to the western checkpoint.
âPark rangers have searched the delivered food and tagged delivery vehicles, and have confirmed that winter survival items will only be admitted ‘at the discretion’ of park rangers, which is subject to decision making. arbitrary and subjective. “
Survival supplies for the camp include harm reduction and naloxone items, food and water, laundry, tents, and other health and safety items. There is no running water in the park, so it must be delivered by volunteers.
York adds that concrete blocks were placed at the eastern and southern perimeters of the park and that a locked door was installed at the western entrance in May.
In an email sent Oct. 10, Jeannine Guerette of the Vancouver Park Board responded to NEWS 1130’s interview request saying that the organization’s chief executive “reissued an order effective September 9 banning shelters and temporary structures in CRAB Park “.
âOver the past several months, park board staff, along with our outreach partners, have engaged with homeless people in CRAB Park in an effort to help them move indoors. . Our rangers also play a vital role as they provide an extra level of security for visitors and people sleeping in the park. Examples include monitoring and performing routine wellness checks, âGuerette wrote.
âAs a signatory to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is committed to preventing campsites in Vancouver’s parks and is responsible for enforcing park control regulations, which prevent the construction of temporary shelters during the day
in Vancouver parks, when suitable indoor spaces are available for homeless people to move around indoors.
York adds that camp residents have been triggered by the fencing and surveillance as many have suffered trauma and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
âMy father was treated like a savage. And it makes me feel like I’m being treated like a savage, âsaid Resident R, a native male, in the York statement. Another resident said the fence made them feel like they were “in jail”.
âI went through long periods of solitary confinement during my incarceration, so the environments that remind me of this are very distressing,â said former CRAB Park resident J.
Bill MacEwan, a veteran psychiatrist and mental health worker with VGH, is also quoted in the York press release, saying that the history of trauma is “off the charts” among the homeless population of the Downtown Eastside. This includes people living at CRAB Park.
âThe average college student, on a scale of 30, is a four or a five. These people are between 18 and 20 years old, âhe said. “It was serious and repetitive trauma.”
A legal petition by a team representing the residents of the CRAB park was filed on September 20 to overturn the park council’s order.