In a surprise decision, the City of Vancouver has lost its bid for an injunction against the “Ten Year Tent City” on Main Street.
Surprising, perhaps because the city won an injunction against another camp at 58 Hastings Street last November.
This time the decision going in the residents’ favour at BC Supreme Court, much to the relief of Maria Wallstam from the activist group Alliance Against Displacement.
“We’re going to continue building it, and support the residents there and continue fighting for housing.”
She says the government needs to step in and build housing.
“The city’s not providing any alternatives to the tent city, people have nowhere to go and she said this is something the government could easily do if they wanted to.”
In a written response, the city acknowledges there’s a lack of affordable housing, but adds the encampment is hindering the site project’s progress.
“There’s nowhere for them to actually live”
Before the decision came down, one homelessness activist said residents would have nowhere to go if they’re forced to leave.
Karen Ward from the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, or VANDU, said the people who live in the tent city are there because the shelter system has already failed them.
“There’s nowhere for them to actually live, they are put onto waiting lists that go on for years and years or they’re basically condemned to surviving in the crumbling and inadequate and the incredibly unsafe SROs.”
Ward blames the jump in rents at $300 a month SRO’s, where they’re being bought, slightly renovated, and then rented out for over $500.
That process puts them just out of the range of people living on welfare, which grants them $600 a month.
Ward said the issues require solutions that reach farther than SRO’s provide.
“What we really seek is substantial re-investment in social housing to actually address the issue of homelessness that most visibly impacts those people who have resorted to living in tent cities.”
Twenty-six units of social housing are currently in planning stages to be built at the site of the camp.
Thirty campers call the tent city home, and more are expected to join.
Residents were issued a notice to vacate the site by the City of Vancouver at the end of April, which they refused to comply with.