The VICE Guide to Right Now

Housing Activists Are Setting Up a Tent City in Vancouver

A few days after a homeless camp in Victoria was ordered to leave, Vancouver might get its own protest camp.

by Sarah Berman
Jul 10 2016, 3:00pm

From Victoria's tent city. Photo by Jackie Dives

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada

A few days after a judge ordered that Victoria's controversial tent city be shut down, a group of anti-poverty activists have started setting up a smaller tent city in downtown Vancouver.

On Saturday afternoon, a march protesting the city's lack of affordable housing ended at a community garden lot on East Hastings Street. The same lot once hosted a makeshift homeless camp during the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver. One protester yelled "welcome home!" as about 100 people walked through the gates.

Karen Ward, a member of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, told VICE she planned to stay the night at the site. "It's city-owned land... they want to build social-mixed housing. Our stance is we want 100 percent social housing at the shelter rate of $375."

Ward said she currently lives in supported housing, but joined the camp because of Vancouver's out-of-control housing situation. "Property is being used as an investment rather than housing," she said. "The situation's only gotten so much worse."

Only a few dozen campers remained at the site after the protest. Police that had escorted the protest also left. Six people had set up tents by the afternoon, including Dan Stadt, who told VICE he has spent years on the street while waiting for social housing. "I stay in places when I can, but mostly I sleep in parks and streets."

Ward said more tents were likely on the way. "We're going to have a feast here in a couple hours for the whole community, then we're expecting more people to start coming here and setting up."

Follow Sarah Berman on Twitter.