Oppenheimer tent city must go, says Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

Due to policing costs, serious concerns over health and safety of campers and due to the recent change in weather, the City of Vancouver says the time has come to strike camp at Oppenheimer Park.

Possible evidence of a homicide hidden in one of the tents is cited by police as a reason the camp must go

Homeless campers in Vancouver's Oppenhiemer Pakr get evictions notices 2:08

Due to policing costs, serious concerns over health and safety of campers and due to the recent change in weather, the City of Vancouver says the time has come to strike camp at Oppenheimer Park.

Mayor Gregor Robertson held a press conference Thursday to explain some of the reasons why the city is seeking an injunction from B.C. Supreme Court to have the campsite dismantled.

"It's really time that the encampment comes down and the park is returned to its natural state for the community," he said. 

"We're looking forward to a peaceful resolution, but we want to ensure that we've gone through the right process with the courts."

Oppenheimer Park, in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, remains a tent city on Sept. 25, 2014, more than two months after homeless campers and their supporters said they would begin living in the park due to a lack of adequate housing. (CBC)

Robertson said conditions at the site have deteriorated and the city and police need to ensure that people are safe.

One of the many allegations made in a police affidavit supporting the removal of the Oppenheimer Park protest camp is that one of the tents may contain evidence of a homicide.

The affidavit of Insp. Howard Chow also claims that, among the various actions police have undertaken around the tents and campsites, officers seized various weapons and caught a convicted sex offender in the park's playground. 

In total, the Vancouver Police Department says it estimates it has spent $75,000 on overtime since the camp sprung up in mid-July.

Robertson said the city wants to ensure that the homeless people who are camping at the park find appropriate places to go.

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.

Robertson said there are still 50 people on a waiting list to move from the park into housing, and there are possibly another 50 or more people in Oppenheimer Park who are believed to be homeless.

Representatives from the city will be in B.C. Supreme Court Monday seeking the injunction.

With files from the CBC's Jason Proctor and Bal Brach


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