The ongoing encampment has taken over Strathcona Park. This encampment was created on the same day that the campers were evicted from the Port Authority Lands beside Crab Park, on June 16th, 2020. The gear from the previous encampment was relocated in U-Haul trucks and food and other supplies were dropped off along the perimeter on Malkin Street.
At first, the encampment was limited to one of the tennis courts and around the running track in the southeast portion of the park. At the end of June, the encampment organizers hosted a barbecue and block party and invited neighbours. The spokesperson mentioned “shared land use” and said that “people can co-exist together” (see the full CTV report from June 27 here). Since that time, the number of campers has steadily grown, and now have also pitched tents along Prior Street to the north as well as Hawks Avenue on the west.
Apart from the campers, the park is empty. The playground isn’t in use, neither are the sports fields or skateboard park. Residents can’t even go near the park without getting chased away by one of the encampment’s patrols. Parks staff, City of Vancouver employees and social workers are not allowed to enter the park. Is Strathcona Park turning into an autonomous zone?
It’s worth noting that there are a number of smaller clusters of homeless living in other parks and spaces in the City. Homeless individuals can co-exist and peacefully pitch a tent in a park for a few days and move on, or even stay permanently, without issue. Generally, campers want to be left alone in peace. Why is the Strathcona Park encampment different?
Strathcona Park encampment hosts neighbourhood barbecue, hoping to ease residents’ concerns (CTV News, Ben Miljure, June 27, 2002)
Strathcona Park new site of encampment. Campers relocated from Port Authority Lands beside Crab Park (CityHallWatch, June 16, 2020)