CRAB Park residents celebrate two years of legal encampment

Residents living in Vancouver’s Crab Park are celebrating two years of living in the city’s only legal encampment, Kier Junos reports.

Residents living in Vancouver’s CRAB Park are celebrating two years of living in the city’s only legal encampment.

Brent Curkum has volunteered at CRAB Park for two years, doing what he can to make sure things run smoothly.

He previously lived in an encampment in Strathcona Park and accepted a housing offer after the Strathcona camp was shut down in 2021.

Curkum says he didn’t expect CRAB Park to be around for this long.

“It’s a miracle – and it’s an achievement in itself. It made world news. And I think people here are proud of that.”

Two summers ago, the Vancouver Park Board tried to get a court injunction to keep people from living here.

But Jason Hebert and other camp residents challenged it, winning a BC Supreme Court decision last January, allowing people to live in a designated section of the park.

Photo of tents lined up in Vancouver's Crab Park

(CityNews Image)

It was a big win, but still, Hebert says he doesn’t believe city officials really want to help.

“When you come into the park, there’s an aisle of rocks that are set up over there. That’s so no more tents can be put up. That’s not very welcoming,” he said.

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The lawyer who worked on Hebert’s case says, since the court ruling at CRAB Park, other courts in Canada have ruled in favour of people living in camps, reinforcing their right to shelter.

But they say people in power – need to start reading these significant court decisions.

“What we need is for governments to actually stop and think about their decisions and take their impact on the lives of people who are homeless seriously,” Julia Riddle explained.

“We’re not seeing that in Vancouver. In fact, we’ve seen a real reversal in course that’s tragic. That’s the only word that there is for it.”

In a statement to CityNews, BC Housing says it is “working quickly” to bring everyone living outside on the Downtown Eastside indoors, but adds there are challenges that have grown over the years.

“Everyone deserves a safe place to live in, with access to the services they need. While encampments may offer a sense of community for some people, they are not a safe or suitable form of long-term shelter and create significant risks for peoples’ well-being,” the statement reads.

BC Housing further explains it is bringing 89 new supported housing units online in the coming weeks, but says they “are being offered first to people currently living in shelters or SROs.”

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Meanwhile, Curkum says the CRAB Park camp continues improving to help anyone that who can’t get housing.

“This is growing, just like people are growing too. We’re all growing and becoming something bigger, and something that everyone can share, or use,” he said.

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