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Olympics street closures to relocate homeless in early Feb.

February 5, 2010, is eviction day for homeless people sleeping near the Georgia Viaduct, Vancouver’s city manager said today.

Starting then, the busy thoroughfare connecting downtown to east Vancouver will be closed to normal traffic. It's part of the 2010 Games transportation plan. And Penny Ballem confirmed anyone sleeping near or under the viaduct will have to leave.

“If there are any homeless people there we will be working with our host of community agencies and our outreach teams to make sure that they’re aware of what’s happening,” Ballem told reporters.

The city manager gave repeated assurances that any dislocated people would be connected with a wide range of support services and shelter. Vancouver already has an extensive outreach network that helps people on the streets find housing, she added.

“So that is kind of business as usual for us in the city,” Ballem said.

Late last March, deputy police chief Steve Sweeney said homeless people living near the Georgia Viaduct could face arrest if they refuse to leave when security fences go up.

“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you there won’t be an impact for them,” he said at the time.

Today was the official unveiling of the 2010 transportation plan update. Many of the biggest traffic and security restrictions will take place in the eastern end of False Creek. Home to the Athletes' Village, B.C. Place Stadium and GM Place, the zone was a big challenge for transportation organizers.

“That’s a very congested area and really speaks for the complexity of our planning,” Integrated Security Unit Supt. Kevin deBruyckere said.

The first restrictions will start November 1, when 1st Avenue from Quebec Street to the Cambie Bridge closes to traffic. As more closures are phased in, security forces will begin setting up fences and readying screening areas for pedestrians and vehicles.

The Athletes' Village will be fully shut off from all non-accredited personnel by late January. Fenced security zones around the stadium district, which includes the Georgia Viaduct, will be ready by early February.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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