POLITICS

Occupy Vancouver Dominates City's Mayoral Race

10/26/2011 03:14 EDT | Updated 12/26/2011 05:12 EST
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Vancouver mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton is turning up the pressure on Mayor Gregor Robertson to force an end to the Occupy Vancouver protest on the lawn of the downtown art gallery.

The city councillor says she is introducing a motion to have council give those in the encampment a week to move. She calls the activists and protesters that have set up the elaborate tent city on the site "squatters."

Robertson, who is running for a second term as mayor in the upcoming civic election on Nov. 19, has suggested the city can't do much about the encampment, because the art gallery lawn they are occupying is actually provincial land.

He has been calling for a negotiated end to the protest camp, but many of those camped at the site have said they have no intention of leaving the art gallery lawn willingly.

Activist Rob Torok says he was one of the first to set up at the camp and he has no plans to go anywhere.

"I will be here until the police drag me away."

Anton says it's the city's issue to deal with and she's confident the so-called tent city can be dismantled peacefully.

"What they need to be asked to do is to send a formal notice to the campers that the structures need to be moved," said Anton.

"You say you must take your structures down within a week from now, and then you send in your professional staff teams of health, housing, community nurses, engineering, fire and you work with the people to remove the structures.

"It has been done many times before. I am confident that it can be done."

Mayoral interruption

On Tuesday night some of the protesters interrupted a mayoral debate between Anton and Robertson hosted by the Vancouver Board of Trade.

The Occupy Vancouver protest first set up camp at the site on October 15, as part of a global movement staging similar protests in cities around the world inspired by the Occupy Wall Street camp that was set up in New York city in September.

In Victoria about 50 tents have also been set up at a protest camp at Centennial Square, but Victoria police say they have no plans to remove the encampment, even though it violates the city's anti-camping bylaw. Protesters have also established a protest camp in Nelson, B.C.

On Wednesday morning, riot police in Atlanta and Oakland, Calif. cleared protest camps in both cities. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested in swift crackdowns by riot squads after local authorities lost patience with the rallies.

In New York businesses and residents near Zuccotti Park, the unofficial headquarters of the movement that began in mid-September, are demanding something be done to discourage the hundreds of protesters from urinating in the street and making noise at all hours.

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