Strathcona Park reopens to public as officials remove tent city barricades

·2 min read
B.C. Housing and outreach workers speak with residents days before an injunction to clear their tent encampment at Strathcona Park in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
B.C. Housing and outreach workers speak with residents days before an injunction to clear their tent encampment at Strathcona Park in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Park Board officials say the fencing around the site of a former sprawling tent city on Vancouver's East Side will start coming down over the next few days and is reopen to the public after a long occupation by the city's disenfranchised homeless population.

In an email Tuesday, officials said fence removal in Strathcona Park is expected to take a few days to complete, though the park will be open to the public immediately as the work progresses.

Visitors will be able to safely access the park pathways, outdoor track, off-leash dog area, including the Cottonwood community gardens, according to the board's general manager, Donnie Rosa.

"We know this park is integral to the community, and we are pleased that this will once again be a space to socialize and connect with one another," said Rosa.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

"We also know that a lot has happened here, which is why we have worked closely with Indigenous and community partners to ensure we were providing the extra care needed to treat the land."

Residents of the East Vancouver neighbourhood had been calling for an end to the tent city following several violent incidents.

Once such incident in February, ended with the arrest of a tent city occupant, in connection with the death of a 78-year-old woman after she was brutally attacked in her residence during a home invasion.

By May, officials had moved 184 people out of the encampment in accordance with an order issued in April to remove all existing tents, temporary shelters and structures.

The park was then closed for remediation once the encampments had been removed.

Crews began removing turf and gravel surface areas, replacing, levelling and maintaining the fields, as well as replanting damaged trees.

The park board said the all-weather sports field will also reopen for permitted activities and that user groups can start booking sessions in November.

It said all other sports fields in the park will remain closed to organized play to allow the new turf to take root.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC
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