Oppenheimer park occupants are forced out of their home

Caroline Ssemanda / April 25, 2019

The park is closed for maintenance after city pledged to help out the homeless residing in Oppenheimer Park.
(Kaia Proctor / BCIT News)

Homeless people living in tents in Oppenheimer park have been forcibly removed from their set up in the field.

Now the park has been fenced off and closed for the past 24 hours and the homeless are suddenly faced with finding a new home. Police were on hand to assist with the closure.

Oppenheimer park has been home to at least 50 homeless people throughout the winter.

With spring approaching, the park is being closed for maintenance and the re-seeding of the field.

One resident of the park, Rob, says he can’t help but feel that this is a way to kick them out.

“It’s an excuse to push us out and there’s nowhere else to go though so I’m not sure what the plan is, kick us out of here and then what? Go squat somewhere? Find an abandoned building? What are we supposed to do go live in Stanley park where we’re not allowed to be either? So I don’t know.” – Rob, Oppenheimer occupant

To Rob and many other occupants in Oppenheimer park, they see the park as a safe haven.

The city council passed a motion in March to help the homeless in the park.

That motion included access to a warming station, 24-hour access to washrooms and assistance with accommodations. Occupants say some of these promises were never met.

However, with the sudden closure of the park, the tent city campers say they were caught off guard.

Alvin Hacket, a resident of the downtown east side since 1984, has experienced homelessness before and empathizes with the predicament.

Park occupants unsure of their next steps in finding a new home.
(Kaia Proctor / BCIT News)

“You just got to understand that they’re humans like us. They have feelings. When they’re hurt they cry, when they’re scared they hide. Same things we do. So just respect them. We’re humans.” – Alvin Hacket, Downtown East side resident