Tent city in DTES moves locations hours before injunction deadline

The deadline for the tent city on West Hastings has come and gone - but most of the occupants have found another spot.

Most occupants have created new camp next to Pacific Central Station

Advocates for more affordable housing in Vancouver's DTES march to the site of a new homeless camp near Pacific Central Station on Nov. 24, 2016. (Denis Dossmann/CBC)

The deadline for residents of a tent city on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to move has come and gone — and the majority of the group has found another spot.

Hours before a court-ordered injunction against the site at 58 West Hastings was to take effect, many of the campers still at the spot led a march to a new camp outside of Pacific Central Station.

"It's sad. It's really sad," said Marisa Abraham. The 20-year-old says she ended up on the street six months ago, and had been living at the camp with dozens of other people after it was set up in July.

"You gotta worry about where you're going to the bathroom, your stuff getting wet, losing your stuff, people going through your stuff ... it's not a good life."

Remnants of a homeless camp in Vancouver's DTES after most residents packed up on Nov. 24, 2016. (Denis Dossmann/CBC)

Demand for more housing

People at the march and the rally that preceded it argued the local and provincial governments need to do more to provide low-cost housing for Vancouver's most vulnerable.

"People have nowhere to go, there's no housing options, shelters are full, and so they're probably going to set up their tents elsewhere," said Maria Wallstam with the Alliance Against Displacement. 

She said that while local officials have offered everyone in the camp spaces in shelters, some people prefer the solidarity of a campground.

"Being together in a site like this saves peoples lives," she said. 

"If someone has an overdose, someone else has Narcan and is available to save them. If you're by yourself, sleeping under a bridge or in back alley and you have an overdose alone, you're dead."

The City of Vancouver has promised to build a social housing project with about 250 units and an integrated health centre at the site of the old camp.

Wallstam believes that won't be nearly enough to plug the gap.

"200, 300, 400 units isn't going to do it. We need 10,000 units every year in B.C. to stave off this homeless crisis."

With files from Brenna Rose