British Columbia·Video

Man threatens to stab Vancouver city councillor in verbal altercation caught on video

Video taken in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood on Friday morning shows a Vancouver city councillor getting into a heated verbal altercation with a man who threatens to stab him. The Strathcona Residents' Association says it's an example of increasingly serious incidents in the area.

WARNING: Video contains offensive language

A still from a video posted Friday morning showing a verbal altercation on the streets of Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood. (Kimberley Allen)

Video taken in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood on Friday morning shows a city councillor getting into a heated verbal altercation with a man who threatens to stab him.

The Strathcona Residents' Association says it's an example of increasingly serious incidents in the area.

The incident, posted on the association's Facebook group, shows Coun. Pete Fry and an unidentified man with a backpack and camouflage pants yelling at each other near the corner of Hawks Avenue and Union Street. 

Kimberley Allen, who posted the video, said the incident happened Friday morning. She said she was out walking her dog when she came across the man preparing to use drugs and asked him to leave. 

WATCH | Video shows a heated verbal altercation and threats of violence

A man threatened to stab a Vancouver city councillor Friday morning in Strathcona. A residents' group says it's a sign of increasing crime in the neighbourhood. 0:35

Fry was walking his own dog when he said he saw Allen approach him.

"He got pretty agitated and aggressive with her," Fry said.

"I was concerned for the safety of my neighbours because there are a number of kids who live in that block and we've had a number of incidents, even in the last week alone."

The video shows the men yelling at each other and exchanging foul language. The unidentified man is walking away from Fry and the person recording the video.

The video doesn't capture the beginning of the encounter. It begins with the man swearing and hurling insults at Fry.

"Get the f--- out of here, a------," Fry replied.

More words were exchanged. The man walks away from Fry, who continues to approach him.

"Stay the f--- away from me, I'll f---in' stab you," he said to Fry. "I'll f---in' stab you, buddy, so quick."

The video ends with Fry slowly following the man as he walks away down the block.

'This is our daily reality'

Crime has been a growing concern for some local residents in recent months.

After tent cities in Oppenheimer Park and Crab Park in the Downtown Eastside were shut down, a new camp opened at Strathcona Park, which campers call camp KT.

At the end of June, an organizer of camp KT said about half its residents came from the dismantled camps.

Some residents have spoken up in support of the camp and people living there but concerns have been raised — including by Fry, who lives in Strathcona — about troubling incidents connected to it.

"Things are getting pretty tense in Strathcona," Fry said Friday. "I think this is a reflection of that."

Fry's concerns were echoed by the  Strathcona Residents Association.

"This is our daily reality," vice-president Katie Lewis said in an email. "This has gotten out of control. We need our elected leaders to help."

Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Roed said Friday that police were aware of the video showing an altercation involving "possibly a resident or camper with the Strathcona encampment."

He offered no further details but said police would look into it.

Roed said police have increased their presence in Strathcona.

He said there has not been an increase in calls for service to the Strathcona neighbourhood compared to last year, but calls to the park where the tent city is located are much higher.

Camp leader says more housing needed

In a statement, Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson said he met with the residents' association earlier this week to hear their concerns.

"We don't believe that a managed encampment is the answer — our focus is on housing people," Simpson said, addin 2,500 people have already moved into supportive housing and that there are 1,000 more supportive housing spaces "underway."

He said BC Housing and non-profit groups are providing some services at camp KT, like healthcare follow-up, overdose outreach and support for Indigenous cultural programs.

Camp KT liaison Chrissy Brett said drug prohibition, insufficient housing and a lack of services are the cause of incidents like the one on Friday.

"When we have criminalization of drug addiction and mental health issues, we always see this result," Brett said. 

"Here's an example of why we need to create more spaces where there [is] drug treatment and support for people who are struggling."

Chrissy Brett said stable housing is needed to help camp KT residents avoid clashes with neighbours. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Brett said KT is giving stability, safety and community to many residents. Within the camp, she said, are supports like volunteer counsellors.

The community is Indigenous-led, she said, and there are standards of behaviour within the camp. Camp leadership is building relationships with police and non-profit groups to improve safety, she said.

What residents of the camp want, she said, is permanent, stable housing and not to live in parks.

Government officials should be looking for spaces to create that housing, she said.

With files from Jon Hernandez

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