FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2022
Fire Chief Karen Fry’s July 25, 2022, Fire Order is in violation of International and Canadian Human Rights standards as set out in the National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada. Furthermore, the decampment is also in violation of the “Memorandum of Understanding on Support for Unsheltered Vancouver Residents” signed by the Parks Board, City and Province. With no real plan to provide adequate storage and long-term housing options; no respect for the distinct rights of Indigenous Peoples; lack of meaningful engagement with encampment residents, and, a plan to proceed with coercive, forced decampment, the City and Vancouver Fire Rescue Services received an “E” grade by the residents of the Hastings Tent City.
Ensuring failure to justify Status Quo
While the City has failed to provide concrete information regarding the enforcement of the Fire Order, we have been advised that the City will begin removing structures today (August 9, 2022). More garbage continues to collect in the neighbourhood since the city engineering workers stopped collecting garbage along Hastings on Saturday July 31. Instead of providing key infrastructure to support the work of Our Streets – Block Stewardship Program the city is using the deteriorating conditions, manufactured by City staff, as another political tactic to justify the forced decampment.
The City convened Street Sweeps Working Group (SSWG), identified key infrastructure, including: storage facilities, permanent parklets, green & blue spaces, hygiene facilities & garbage disposal sites. As of today, the City has not delivered this key infrastructure requested by community partners.
Since July 27, 1,044 people have sent emails in support of unhoused neighbours to the Mayor and other senior City staff, as well as the Fire Chief. People recognize how unjust and dangerous this Fire Order and the imminent decampment is. People also recognize that as long as there is inadequate, inaccessible housing, there will be people sheltering in tents and makeshift shelters outside. We are once again echoing the demands outlined by Our Streets:
- The City of Vancouver and BC Housing must provide liveable, dignified, and accessible housing to all.
- As well, both institutions must take accountability for the inhumane living conditions currently present in Single Room Occupancies (SROs).
- If the City and BC Housing fail to provide any housing options, there must be alternative locations provided for folks to tent without threats of eviction.
- The City of Vancouver must provide an adequate number of appropriate hygienic facilities such as bathrooms and showers to residents of the DTES, whether housed or unhoused.
- The Fire Department must acknowledge the unique set of needs our community faces with the overlapping toxic drug supply, lack of adequate housing, daily police violence, and effects of intergenerational trauma resulting from colonization.
- To reflect this, they must adopt a true harm reduction approach to fire safety.,
- Fire Chief Karen Fry must reverse the fire order.
- The immediate end to enforcement of bylaws created to criminalize poverty.
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Background information & Documents
Hastings Tent City – Decampment Report Card
August 9, 2022
On August 7, 2022, the residents of Hastings Tent City, supported by the #StopTheSweeps Coalition held a Community Assembly. During the assembly residents were surveyed and based on the “National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada”, it has been determined that the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services received an overall “E” grade.
Hastings Tent City Decampment Myths & Misunderstandings
August 9, 2022
This Fact Sheet has been created by Pivot Legal Society to demystify myths and misunderstandings purposely created by City of Vancouver, Vancouver Fire Rescue Services, and the Vancouver Police Department.
About Pivot Legal Society
Pivot Legal Society is a leading Canadian human rights organization that uses the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Canada. Pivot’s work includes challenging laws and policies that force people to the margins of society and keep them there. Since 2002 Pivot has won major victories for sex workers’ rights, police accountability, affordable housing, and health and drug policy.
Using the law as a catalyst for positive social change, Pivot Legal Society works to improve the lives of marginalized communities.