The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
Get our free newsletter
Sign Up
Municipal Politics

Sopping Wet and Nowhere to Go

Vancouver is trying to prevent permanent encampments by forcing people to pack up every morning, rain or shine.

Jen St. Denis 16 Jun 2021 |

Jen St. Denis is The Tyee’s Downtown Eastside reporter. Find her on Twitter @JenStDen.

A Vancouver bylaw aimed at preventing more homeless camps in parks is being applied inconsistently and forcing people to remain outside in miserable weather, says an advocate for homeless people.

The bylaw is being enforced by park rangers every day at Crab Park, where around a dozen people have been tenting since May 23. The park board bylaw was passed a year ago, and allows people to put a tent up overnight in city parks — but says tents and other belongings must be removed from the park by 8 a.m.

Park board general manager Donnie Rosa hopes enforcement of the bylaw will prevent another large tent city from forming, after an encampment at Oppenheimer Park that lasted from 2018 to 2020 and another at Strathcona Park in place from June 2020 to April. Both camps had problems with violence and crime, but camp supporters said they also provided a community to people who had nowhere else to go.

Today, both parks remain blocked off behind high blue fences.

On Sunday, in the midst of a heavy rainstorm, Fiona York says park rangers told people at Crab Park that they couldn’t set up tarps to wait out the wet weather after they had taken their tents down.

“There was no way to shelter from the rain,” said York, who has advocated for people living in encampments in Oppenheimer and Strathcona Park.

The park is on the waterfront near the Downtown Eastside. Daytime drop-in spaces, like the nearby Evelyne Saller Centre, are not an option for many of the people who sleep outside, York said. That’s because they fear their belongings will be taken by city sanitation crews who regularly patrol the neighbourhood, accompanied by police officers, to move people off East Hastings Street and other parts of the Downtown Eastside.

“The rangers’ response would be like, ‘Oh well you can go to a temporary shelter,’ but then they're also being told that if you leave your stuff, it's going to get taken and you have to be in attendance,” York said. “So it's impossible to follow all of those things. You’re left standing in a downpour with nothing, or leaving and having nothing to come back to.”

In November, The Tyee spoke to Bill S., a man who had lost his tent and all his belongings when he went to the Evelyne Saller Centre to get breakfast. Advocates say homeless people regularly lose all their belongings in the street sweeps, including tents, bedding and clothing.

York said the bylaw should be interpreted to allow people some sort of daytime shelter in parks in bad weather.

In 2008 and again in 2015, the BC Supreme Court struck down city bylaws — one in Victoria and the other in Abbotsford — that prohibited people from erecting overnight shelters in parks. The rulings did allow municipalities to require people to pack up their tents each day.

The Tyee contacted the park board for this story, and Jeannine Guérette, a communications staffer, wrote that the bylaw allowing camping “should only be seen as a last resort, and is not intended for people to set up structures in perpetuity.”

“We will continue to work with our city and provincial partners to address the root causes of homelessness, and outreach teams are in the community daily to help connect people with various services.”

Guérette could not confirm whether or not park rangers had prevented people from using tarps during the day.

582px version of CrabParkTentTarp.jpg
A person living in Crab Park shelters under a tarp in heavy rain on Sunday. Advocates say park rangers told people they had to take down their tarps. Photo submitted.

The City of Vancouver has refused to set up a permanent sanctioned encampment spot, instead preferring to house people living in large camps in shelters or hotels and supportive housing, which can include single-room occupancy hotels — a type of housing many tent city residents say they are trying to avoid.

Homelessness rose during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with hotels empty because of the drop in tourism, the province bought or leased many hotel and hostel properties in an effort to provide housing for unhoused people. Some of the properties the province bought were used to house residents of Strathcona Park.

But York says some people were missed in that rehousing effort, and are now living in Crab Park.

Andrew, who has been tenting in Crab Park, said he was living in Strathcona Park because of a bad experience at a homeless shelter. He said living in the park was more peaceful and he didn’t have to worry as much about his belongings being stolen.

But Andrew said he somehow always seemed to miss the meetings with outreach workers who came to Strathcona Park in April to connect people with housing. York says she has a list of 25 people who are in a similar situation.

Laura Mathews, a communications staffer at BC Housing, says 296 people from Strathcona Park were moved indoors between October 2020 and April, and outreach workers spent hundreds of hours in the park meeting with people to connect them with housing.

Outreach workers continue to go to Crab Park to try to connect people living there with housing, Mathews said, and park rangers working in Strathcona Park continue to hand out information about how to connect with housing outreach teams to interested people.

Mathews added that registration for indoor housing has never been halted, and no lists have ever been closed.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Coverage Would You Like to See More of This Year?

Take this week's poll