THE Province, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that formalizes their commitment to work together to end the Strathcona Park encampment and help prevent encampments in the future.
“We will find the most effective solutions to difficult social problems like street homelessness and encampments by working together with all levels of government,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, on Tuesday. “This agreement is a commitment that the city, the park board and the provincial government will work together not just to resolve the current humanitarian crisis for those living in and around Strathcona Park by the end of this month, but on a proactive and ongoing basis to minimize the risk of future problems, while providing the housing people need.”
The MOU clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the Province, city and park board in securing accommodation for people currently living in and around Strathcona Park by April 30.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our most vulnerable neighbours the hardest and forced hundreds out onto streets and parks. Housing is the solution we need to get people in from the cold,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “It’s clear we need long-term, co-ordinated action across jurisdictions, and that’s what today’s historic MOU does. It gives us a plan to follow, to get those experiencing homelessness into homes, with the critical supports and services they need to get back onto their feet.”
As part of the MOU, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation will lead on managing Strathcona Park as the encampment is dismantled, in co-ordination with partners. This includes installing fencing and bylaw enforcement to prevent people from moving back into the park and remediating the site for future community use.
“This collaborative, institutional alignment helps with the current work being done at Strathcona Park, including the plan already in motion to end the encampment there,” said Camil Dumont, Board Chair, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. “The role definition, framing of responsibility and explicit outlining of expectation agreed to in this MOU will also help the park board, city and Province as we work together to effectively meet future challenges in the relationship between park space and homelessness in our community. I would like to thank those who worked with us in good faith to get this done. I’m hopeful we are on a new path together regarding this issue.”
The MOU also outlines commitments to help prevent future encampments in Vancouver. This includes:
* the Province working with government partners to fund and develop temporary and permanent housing options so no one is forced to live outside;
* the city bringing forward available land and buildings for housing or shelter, and to expedite land use decisions necessary to rapidly respond to housing need; and
* the city and the park board enforcing bylaws when suitable spaces are available for people to move indoors.
The Province says it continues to work with the City of Vancouver and community partners on temporary and permanent housing solutions for people who are living outside.
With the recent hotel purchases and the new temporary shelter spaces coming to the city, there will be more than 300 available supportive homes and indoor spaces, in addition to the 450 supportive homes already on the way. This builds on the nearly 1,000 supportive homes opened in Vancouver over the last three years.