‘It’s eviction by attrition’: Advocate questions Vancouver’s plan to cap number of CRAB Park residents

An advocate for people sheltering in Vancouver’s CRAB Park is expressing apprehension about the park board’s plan to limit capacity in the city’s only legal encampment.

“There’s a lot of confusion about the number (of residents allowed),” Fiona York told CityNews. “And, all of these unanswered questions are producing a lot of anxiety for people.”

Less than a week has passed since those residing in CRAB Park were granted readmittance to the designated area they had been living in before the City of Vancouver moved in for a “clean-up.”

Starting Tuesday, the Vancouver Park Board says it intends to enforce a bylaw preventing new individuals from seeking shelter within the designated area. It says it will do this by removing a designated sheltering spot each time one appears to have been vacated.

“It’s eviction by attiration,” York said.

“We have about 5,000 people who are homeless, the need is not going to end if [ the city] removes one person’s tent. People have to stay somewhere.”

In 2022, the BC Supreme Court denied an injunction that would have granted the Vancouver Park Board the authority to evict CRAB Park residents.

However, York believes that the park board still possesses the power to regulate the number of residents living in the park.

“There’s a fair amount of flexibility the park board has,” she noted.

York says the individuals seeking shelter in CRAB Park have already been denied entry in the days preceding the implementation of the bylaw limiting new arrivals.

“There was a single woman who showed up and was told she wasn’t on the list. She went to live under a bridge,” York said. “This is what happens when people get turned away. People end up in increasingly precarious positions.”

Last week, CityNews reported that some CRAB Park residents received letters indicating their failure to claim one of the 27 available spots by last Sunday would result in exclusion from consideration for a spot in the park.

On Monday, Vancouver Park Board Chair Brennan Bastyovansky told CityNews approximately 16 individuals had successfully secured full-time shelter within CRAB Park.

Since the clean-up commenced last month, the city says at least three individuals have transitioned into permanent housing, with two more expected to move into housing “shortly.”