Home / Vancouver Park Board Must Halt Operations to Decamp CRAB Park Residents!

Vancouver Park Board Must Halt Operations to Decamp CRAB Park Residents!

(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C.) – On Monday, February 26, 2024, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation issued written notice to CRAB Park residents to leave the designated sheltering area for site cleanup. The park will be fenced off for at least a week, and residents will not be allowed access. Homes will be destroyed and the community dismantled. This is, in effect, an unlawful decampment of the protected designated daytime sheltering area.

Politicians at all levels of government have acknowledged that Canada is suffering from a housing crisis. In her report, the Federal Housing Advocate, Marie-Josée Houle, recognized the severity of the housing crisis and that “encampments represent an effort by people who are unhoused to claim their human right to housing and meet their most basic needs for shelter.”[1] For the residents of CRAB Park, this decampment exacerbates risks to their physical and psychological health, causes them to lose items essential for their survival, and destabilizes the community.

Before the written notice was issued, CRAB park residents filed a human rights complaint against the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and the City of Vancouver. Residents are alleging the Board and the City failed to provide adequate and appropriate electricity, sanitation services, shade or fair communication, amounting to discrimination based on their Indigenous identity, race, color, ancestry, place of origin, physical and mental disability, sex, and age. Currently, these proceedings are underway and should be prioritized ahead of any major cleanup operations.

Fiona York, CRAB Park Advocate, says,The Vancouver Parks Board did not give residents enough time to provide feedback. It is impossible to provide feedback when the details of the cleanup plan are unclear. Instead of providing adequate and appropriate services, including electricity and sanitation facilities, VPB is displacing residents for at least a week. The VPB has not identified an alternate temporary area, so we do not know if the space can accommodate all the residents. This an effort to displace, dismantle, and destabilize the CRAB Park community.

Meghan McDermott, Policy Director at the BC Civil Liberties Association, says, “CRAB Park is a legally protected designated sheltering area. Unfortunately, the Human Rights Tribunal does not have a mechanism like an injunction to stop the Vancouver Parks Board from decamping residents at this time. We think it is reprehensible that the Parks Board would propose dismantling the residents’ structures while the human rights proceedings are underway. This is an unlawful disruption of park residents’ fundamental human right to shelter.”

We urge the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation to halt this sweeping operation until the human rights complaint is resolved. Any future cleanup operations must take a trauma-informed and human rights-based approach and be done in collaboration with CRAB park residents.

[1] The Office of the Federal Housing Advocate, 2024. Upholding dignity and human rights: the Federal Housing Advocate’s review of homeless encampments – Final report. Ottawa, p. 2.