Neighbors appreciate that action is being taken
Vancouver city officials made contact Thursday morning with homeless people camping in a parking lot at Leverich Park, putting them on notice that they would have to move.
Neighbors showed appreciation.
“Looks like Julie is keeping her word,” said Antonio Buckley, a homeowner near the park, referring to Julie Hannon, the director of parks for the city.
Late last month, city council, the mayor, and the city manager, along with Hannon, came up with a plan to address the issue at Leverich Park and other encampments throughout the city.
Buckley and his neighbors had been getting in contact with city council members in the previous weeks, detailing the number of campers in the park, as well as the expanded number of homeless camping along nearby trails. They reported graffiti, vandalism, and harassment coming from those in the camps.
Buckley said “it was great” to see the city responding to their inquiries. He saw police officers there along with Hannon during the notifications. Hannon confirmed that eight service providers were also there, providing the homeless with other options. There is a city-sanctioned safe zone in east Vancouver, plus there are churches that are providing some space.
The city also brought in a clean-up crew Thursday.
Buckley said he was receiving emails from neighbors noting that action was taking place as it was happening. That’s how big of an issue it is in their neighborhood, he said.
The plan is for city officials to return next week to ensure the homeless have moved from the parking lot, Buckley was told.
This is just a start, though.
Buckley and his neighbors helped clean up an abandoned campsite near the Ellen Davis Trail last weekend. The site was full of trash, as well as used hypodermic needles. The group discarded 56 needless on Sunday, Buckley said.
Unfortunately, once that campsite was cleaned up, another group of homeless took over that site in just a few days. That group left behind its campsite, some 30 yards away, Buckley said, leaving behind a different mess.
On Wednesday, Buckley said, he and his neighbors discarded another 50-plus needles from that area.
“Waiting for something to happen wasn’t productive at all,” Buckley said of the clean-up mission on the trails. “Why wait when you can actually be active in your community? If you can do it safely, do it. Organize with your neighbors and get it done. That’s the easiest and fastest way. Community activism is probably the best way to get things done.”
City leaders said Thursday that after the parking lot at Leverich Park is cleared and cleaned, they will turn their attention toward the nearby trails.