The Solidarity and Social Justice Committee (SSJC) of the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) calls on the City of Vancouver and the province of BC to provide adequate housing for all those utilizing the encampment at CRAB Park, and condemns the June 10th Port of Vancouver-granted injunction that allows the enforcement of an order to evict the tent city after 72 hours. We are saddened that the city has sent the police to violently dismantle a community based around survival and necessity during a housing crisis, but are moved by the continuing resistance and resilience displayed by the residents of the camp. SJJC calls, further, on the city and province to move forward with significant actions to provide permanent housing for all unhoused people in Vancouver and to leave the resettled encampment undisturbed until that happens.
CRAB Park tent city is home to over 125 people, many of whom are Indigenous, who find community, safety and support organized around a 24-hour sacred fire. It is safe and clean, including water delivery, two hand wash stations, and two portable toilets.
The encampment was set-up preceding and following the time of the 9 May 2020 provincial “Emergency Order” on Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park, which once again displaced homeless and unhoused people, under the false pretense that campers were at risk of Covid-19. In fact, it has been proven across Canada that congregate-living outdoors is much less risky, and many residents actually joined the CRAB Park camp because the indoor spaces they had been persuaded to accept when they left Oppenheimer were inadequate. Accepting those spaces would mean having to pay $375/month “shelter rate” out of their minimal incomes.
It is unacceptable that, in the midst of a global pandemic, residents are being evicted from their safe, clean and peaceful encampment at CRAB Park. Given the amount of persons in Vancouver without any form of home or shelter, we find it perplexing that the city would put its efforts on displacing individuals from an encampment, when resources should be focused on providing adequate housing for everyone.
Further, in the month of May, more people in BC died of overdose deaths than from COVID-19. It is therefore bewildering that the city has chosen to prioritize the eviction of people at CRAB park on unfounded grounds that the camp is transmitting the virus, over fighting for spaces that could help prevent the spike in overdose deaths. While limiting the transmission of COVID-19 must be treated with the utmost care, the city and the province must balance this by ensuring that social spaces facilitate less, rather than more, isolation, and so temper the risk of overdose. Displacing the residents of CRAB park tent city is likely to fuel isolation for drug-users and thus increase the risk of overdose-related deaths.
We hope that the City and Province understand the severe consequences of evicting the indigenous-led encampment at CRAB Park and instead prioritize the provision of adequate housing and access to social spaces.
Solidarity and Social Justice Committee
Teaching Support Staff Union