April 4, 2023
UBCIC Alarmed by Vancouver’s Violent Plan to Clear DTES
(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/Vancouver, B.C. – April 4, 2023) A leaked City of Vancouver plan for the Downtown Eastside (DTES) proposes a two-stage violent escalation in evictions of homeless residents who have been forced to live in tents in the face of relentless housing and affordability crises. UBCIC calls on Vancouver to abandon this reckless approach and work with all relevant parties, including the local First Nations and Indigenous organizations, to create a holistic plan founded on the provision of safe, sanitary housing rather than short-sited, traumatizing displacement to homeless shelters and the streets of other neighbourhoods.
Vancouver’s new strategy clearly conflicts with British Columbia’s plan for the DTES, released in March 2023, which proposes a “Housing First” approach. Instead, Vancouver plans to deploy aggressive police tactics to forcibly displace residents without housing available, including those they have categorized as “combative/aggressive” for seeking to protect their shelter and possessions. This disgraceful plan prioritizes Mayor Sim’s political opposition to encampments over collectively addressing a long-standing, province-wide problem, as homelessness continues to rise and safe, affordable housing remains unavailable.
Vancouver’s plan flies in the face of public safety and human rights, as the City appears to be abandoning efforts to work with encampment residents on safety measures or provision of adequate services, such as water, bathrooms, and other necessities. The approach disregards recommendations from Indigenous groups, including the specific recommendations on housing Indigenous women in the DTES that were identified in Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the federal Housing Advocate, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing; instead, choosing violence against a highly marginalized, disproportionately Indigenous population who are simply trying to survive. UBCIC calls on the City of Vancouver to formally shelve the leaked plan and begin again, upholding the human rights of those unhoused in the DTES and ensuring safe and secure housing is provided.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314
Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083
Chief Marilyn Slett, Secretary-Treasurer, 250-957-7721
UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
For more information please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca