The BCCLA is urging the City of Vancouver to facilitate the ‘tent city’ demonstration happening in Oppenheimer Park. The media is reporting that the demonstrators have been issued notices to remove the tents and other structures that are part of the protest against homelessness.
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the BCCLA said: “As long as public safety isn’t compromised and the rights of others to a fair share of use of the park are respected, the City should permit this demonstration. The City should show leadership in safeguarding the expressive freedom of the demonstrators, which can include using public spaces like Oppenheimer for extended periods, as we have seen many times before in this city.”
Vonn noted reports that some people in the camp are homeless and do not have anywhere else to go: “Any city decision to remove someone from a public space who has nowhere else to sleep could potentially violate the Charter of Rights. When there is not enough adequate housing available, there must be a more sensitive approach than simply forcing people out of a public park. While we understand the City is working on this, this should be done in discussion with the people involved, rather than coupled with eviction orders.”
The BCCLA calls for the free speech rights of the demonstrators to be honoured and for cooperation and constructive discussion to govern the shared use of the park during the demonstration. “Rather than issuing threats of eviction, the City should hold respectful dialogue with the people on the site to ensure that upcoming events, like the Powell Street Festival, aren’t displaced and also have their fair share of the use of the public space,” said Vonn.