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Activists disrupt Vancouver city council meeting to protest homelessness

Protesters occupied council chambers at Vancouver City Hall Tuesday, disrupting a council meeting to protest the city's ongoing homeless crisis.

Protesters occupy council chambers, mayor's chair, call for end to housing crisis

The group called for immediate action to combat homelessness 0:43

Protesters occupied council chambers at Vancouver City Hall Tuesday, disrupting a council meeting to protest the city's ongoing homeless crisis.

The group consisted of activists and residents from various organizations and hotspots in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside, including the Balmoral Hotel, the "Ten Year Tent City," the Carnegie Community Action Project, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and others.

Jean Swanson, of the Carnegie Community Action Project, took Mayor Gregor Robertson's chair shortly before noon.

"People are dying of homelessness. It's urgent," Swanson said. "Somebody has to do something now."

The protesters called for more action from the city to end homelessness, carrying signs saying, "Our homes can't wait," and chanting that same phrase.

They had five motions they wanted council to pass, including guarantees of 100 per cent social housing at sites such as 105 Keefer and 58 West Hastings, enforcing maintenance standards at SROs and ending the displacement of tent cities.

When council left the chamber due to the disruption, the protesters took their seats and voiced their concerns.

Karen Ward, of VANDU, expressed frustration with the lack of action from the city.

"Clearly just asking isn't working anymore," Ward said.

"We can't politely ask for our dignity and our rights and to be treated like human beings [anymore]. We've got to be taking this. These are our lives and our homes, and this is our city."

Protesters occupied the seats of the mayor and council during Tuesday's council meeting. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

With files from Tina Lovgreen.