09/29/2014 09:49 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST

Stanley Park closed early as city blocks homeless from setting up camp

The City of Vancouver says it has stopped a small group of protesters from the homeless camp in Oppenheimer Park from setting up a new camp near the totem poles in Stanley Park.

Vancouver Police closed the park just after 8:30 Sunday night — an hour and a half ahead of schedule — in an effort to block more protesters from entering the park.

In a statement released Sunday night, the city says park board staff became aware a few people had relocated from a protest camp at Oppenheimer Park, to set up camp near the totem poles in Stanley Park.

The city says it learned more people were expected to arrive and it was already concerned about safety in the park, after a number of suspicious fires over the weekend.

"Because of concerns about this situation, and in addition, the several fires which occurred in the park over the last 48 hours, staff and VPD closed the entrance to the park on the north side of Georgia Street", the statement said.

The city says it was able to convince the campers to leave Stanley Park voluntarily. Vancouver Police confirm they were at the park Sunday night, but were not required to intervene.

The City of Vancouver is going to court today, to seek an injunction to have protesters removed from Oppenheimer park. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said last week that living conditions at the site have deteriorated and the campsite is no longer safe. 

The City of Vancouver says shelter spaces are available and that 40 campers have already left the park and moved into housing with the assistance of B.C. Housing and the city's housing outreach team.