'Sugar Mountain' tent city residents defy eviction notice
Residents of the 'Sugar Mountain' tent city in east Vancouver staged a rally Friday, saying they plan to stay put as a deadline to vacate the city-owned property came and went.
Last week, the city issued a notice to residents of the homeless camp, saying it wanted the site at 1131 Franklin Street cleared, so it could begin construction on temporary modular homes.
Ward Ferguson said residents weren't given enough time.
"Five-day eviction notice, that's kind of unreal like, how do you pack a three bedroom apartment up in five days," said resident Ward Ferguson.
Vancouver City Council recently approved a change in land use for the property to allow for the housing as a way to address the needs of vulnerable residents, the city said.
According to the notice, the modular housing units would be in place for at least five years.
Vancouver deputy city manager, Paul Mochrie said outreach workers have been helping residents relocate from the camp to long-term housing and shelters.
Ferguson said the city's gesture won't work for him.
"They offered us a shelter but it doesn't open till about four o'clock, and apparently there's going to be a big flood to get into it," he said.
To date, the city says it's secured housing for 12 people, moved 18 more into shelter spaces, and has room for the six campers who remain.
But the defiant residents say they want guarantees that the modular housing units will be built, and that they will be able to occupy them.
"We appreciate that not everyone is looking at shelter as a long term housing solution, and we don't see it as that either. We definitely see it as a much better, safer alternative for these individuals," said Mochrie.
The city says there is no penalty for non-compliance with the notice to vacate, but Mochrie says if the campers refuse to leave, the city will seek a court injunction to have them removed.