NEWS

Oppenheimer Park campers vow to stay as Vancouver seeks injunction

09/29/2014 09:06 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST
Oppenheimer Park campers say they aren't going anywhere as the City of Vancouver goes to court today to seek an injunction to have them removed.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said last week that living conditions at the site have deteriorated and the campsite is no longer safe.  

But many of the tenters say they would hate to see the camp go because volunteers there have helped them and others.

"Like when I go to work I need a lunch, they provided me with a lunch," said camper Ricky Comeau who describes himself as working-homeless.

"You know what I mean? They make sure my stuff is safe when I go to work. I love it!"

Volunteers running a neighbourhood lunch program over the weekend say they're aware of the controversy, but are impressed with the camp.

"They have some pretty good organization it seems," said volunteer Wisam Abdulla. 

"Sometimes in front of the bottle depot we just kind of get raided, whereas here it was nice and orderly."

Others tasked with maintaining order at the camp express frustration because the camp is attracting people from all over the region.

Organizer Swamp Cree says the region needs a more coordinated strategy to homelessness.

"We need to communicate more about what's going on," said Cree, "because a lot of people are coming from all over the province to come down here."

The city says it has been making big strides finding places for the homeless. Soon the Quality Inn on Howe Street will be used for emergency housing,

But residents living nearby aren't too keen on an influx of homeless, saying these kinds of stop-gap measures don't fix the problem and could force them to move.

Even if the tenters are forced from their camp, many of them say they won't go to shelters.

"They don't like the rules or they're too crowded, or nobody likes to sleep with 40 mats, all stuck together," said tenter Mariel Berubé 

Berubé says many people at Oppenheimer Park need a lot of help, and he doesn't think they'll find it on Monday.

Some of the campers attempted to move to Stanley Park on Sunday evening, but city officials blocked the attempt by closing down the park.

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