Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim says he doesn’t regret DTES decampment

City of Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim says he doesn’t regret his decision to remove encampments in the city’s Downtown Eastside.

City staff alongside Vancouver police officers began removing tents from East Hastings in April, creating a tense scene in the area as those living along the street were forcefully displaced.

In a year-end one-on-one interview with CityNews, Sim says the decision to crack down the encampments on East Hastings came partially due to fears that a massive propane tank stored in a tent would explode.

Sim says he had been notified by Vancouver Fire Rescue Services that these propane tanks were a major hazard.

“We had a big public safety issue there, we were pulling on 100-pound propane tanks … if one of these things goes off, it takes out a whole city block,” he said.

“It was a matter of when not if I personally would have to go to someone’s family and say I’m sorry your mom or dad didn’t make it home tonight because we didn’t have the courage to enforce our bylaw.”

In April, Sim told CityNews that 1,600 propane tanks had been removed and everyone whose encampment was removed had a place to go.

“Everyone that’s put up their hand and taken us up on our offer to move into shelter has received housing solutions,” he said.

Sim says he plans on running for a second term as mayor in 2026, but he understands if the decision to decamp that section of East Hastings has rubbed people the wrong way and steered them away from an ABC vote.

“If everyone in the city hated it, and no one voted for me in the next election, I’m okay with that because I truly believed it was the right decision,” he said.

“We were avoiding a major catastrophe.”

Sim says that, until then, there is still a lot of work to do on a range of files in Vancouver.

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