Last 2 Vancouver homeless camps cost the city $6M

Last 2 Vancouver homeless camps cost the city $6M

Two homeless encampments in Vancouver cost more than $6 million to taxpayers since 2018.

With people still living in tents in more encampments along Hastings Street and in CRAB Park, the new government says reducing cash flow won’t happen soon.

City records in response to a Vancouver Police Department freedom of information request showed upwards of $3.5 million in services and costs with the 18-month Oppenheimer Park encampment from October 2018 to June 2020.

That figure does not include fire costs estimated at $363,400, for enforcing the fire chief’s order in 2019.

The estimated total costs of the Strathcona Park encampment from June 2020 to Oct. 2021 are $2.2 million.

Two homeless encampments in Vancouver cost more than $6 million to taxpayers since 2018.

Two homeless encampments in Vancouver cost more than $6 million to taxpayers since 2018.

Strathcona Residents Association vice-president Katie Lewis said the human costs are much higher.

“People died you know, as a result of those encampments,” Lewis told Global News in an interview Thursday.

“That is way bigger than any number could be.”

Last May, a man was killed in CRAB Park, and the encampment there saw a mass stabbing in October and a tent fire in December.

A man was also murdered in the Oppenheimer Park encampment. The encampment was also the scene of a shooting and what Vancouver police described as a “horrific” sexual assault.

Strathcona Park was the scene of fires, overdose deaths and assaults of two men, one who later died.

Lewis, who said she was attacked by a stranger in the Strathcona Park encampment in Oct. 2020, is hopeful the new ABC majority on Vancouver city council will address the issue.

Two homeless encampments in Vancouver cost more than $6 million to taxpayers since 2018.

Vancouver’s mayor said the city can’t solve this alone.

“These challenges did not creep up overnight and they are significant and they will take time,” Ken Sim told Global News in an interview Thursday.

B.C. Premier David Eby rejects supporting encampments, and Sim said Vancouver is working with the province to progress forward.

When asked how much more money will go into encampments, Sim said the new government will be prudent but admitted there will be expenditures.

“Make no mistake about it, we have a humanitarian crisis going on in our city and we will be allocating resources to these issues,” Sim said.

The money spent on Strathcona Park’s encampment could have covered many city initiatives – including the $2.2 million Chinatown Action Plan approved by council this week.

“It’s definitely not a good use of taxpayer funds when we have so many pressing issues,” Green city councillor Pete Fry said.

Two homeless encampments in Vancouver cost more than $6 million to taxpayers since 2018.

But as long as the courts maintain people cannot be evicted from parks if viable housing alternatives are not available, Fry said the city’s hands are effectively tied.

“It really puts the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board in a very difficult position,” he added.

The costs of the ongoing CRAB Park encampment, which was established in May 2021, have yet to be calculated.

The park board recently installed a new transformer to provide electricity to the encampment after a spokesperson said vandalism to the power supply was discovered in December, resulting in major electrical hazards.

“Let’s build places where people can live that are preferable to sleeping in a tent outside, and then I think you’ll actually see a shift,” Lewis said.

Source: Global News – Kristen Robinson

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