Vancouver advances supportive campsites pilot program project

Changes to camping ordinance is in response to homelessness crisis

VANCOUVER — A key component of the city of Vancouver’s Homelessness Response Plan will move forward after city council affirmed their support for a supportive campsites pilot project and associated changes to the city’s camping ordinance during a workshop on Monday night.

A key component of the city of Vancouver’s Homelessness Response Plan will move forward after city council affirmed their support for a supportive campsites pilot project and associated changes to the city’s camping ordinance during a workshop on Monday night.
File photo.

The pilot project will create supportive campsites for people experiencing homelessness at different locations across the city, serving up to 40 people per site. The campsites will be fenced and supported by a nonprofit on-site operator, sanitation and hygiene services, Share’s Talkin’ Trash program, the city’s Homeless Assistance and Resources Team (HART), and other local service providers. Each will include shower/restroom and laundry trailers, outdoor cooking options and space for offices for management of the site. 

It is anticipated that the temporary program, which is slated to run for two to three years, will facilitate up to three managed campsites this year, providing support to approximately a quarter of the known unsheltered population in Vancouver. Additional camps may be added in 2022, if there are staff and resources available to support them.

“The supportive campsites will not solve homelessness in our city,” said the City’s Homeless Response Coordinator Jamie Spinelli. “But they will help address humanitarian needs and the urgent safety, livability, ecological, social justice and public health concerns resulting from this crisis, including an increase in adverse mental, behavioral and physical health symptoms among those living unsheltered.”

There has been an average of 25 deaths per year among those experiencing homelessness locally due to issues such as exposure to weather and the inability to access health and social services, which will be available at the sites. The homelessness crisis has also fostered increased amounts of solid waste, biohazardous materials and illegal dumping at existing, unsanctioned encampments and associated impacts to ecologically sensitive areas.

At the workshop, city council supported the following campsite placement guidelines: 

  • Disperse supportive campsites equitably throughout the city
  • Avoid areas with heightened economic vulnerability
  • Ensure Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility to and within the campsites
  • Give preference to sites within a half-mile of public transit
  • Comply with all applicable State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements

They also directed staff to use the city’s available permitting processes when locating the campsites and indicated support for several proposed changes to the city’s camping ordinance, including:

  • Prohibiting unsanctioned camping within 200 feet of specific ecologically sensitive areas like the Columbia River, Vancouver Lake, Burnt Bridge Creek, Burton Channel, Peterson Channel and Fisher’s Creek
  • Prohibiting camping within 1,000 feet of any city-approved supportive campsite
  • Prohibiting camping on all wastewater, water station and stormwater facility properties
  • Adding an exemption process for nighttime workers to legally camp during the day outside of ecologically sensitive areas

City council also indicated support for establishing themed supportive campsites serving specific populations.

City staff will present the proposed changes to the city’s camping ordinance back to city council during a first reading and public hearing in September. 

The city recently issued a Request for Proposals to organizations interested in operating the supportive campsites. The contract for a campsite operator will also go to city council for approval once a vendor is selected this fall.

Visit to learn more about the city’s Homelessness Response Plan, ask questions, share ideas and personal stories, or sign up to receive email updates.

Information provided by city of Vancouver.


    1. Muxen

      These people will never get it… Spend more, attract more.

      You can’t solve this problem at the city level. It just escalates the situation.

      Governors, or US Congress need to come up widespread solutions that re!disperse these populations.

      The ONLY local action we should support should identify / help locals in trouble, and buy bus tickets back home for the rest.

  1. Jimbo



    1. Muxen

      I always wondered why this issue never gets solved? How does the combined will of the business and residential community seemingly not have a voice that can compete against the “camper lobby” (LoL)?

      Honest question. Is there big money in the homeless advocacy lobby? Because, I don’t buy the compassion thing. There’s no way these politicians actually give a crap about a bunch of meth heads and other down and outs. Anyone still hanging on that rhetoric is naive about politicians and the nature of narcissism.

      I dont have any great answers….other than, perhaps, a long term play on real estate evaluation?

  2. Spencer Chesselet

    If you know anyone who wants freedom from drugs and alcohol, and other life controlling problems, there is a place called Freedom House ministries off of st Johns Rd

  3. MysTerri

    It’s about time our homeless were treated like people who are “seeking a better life”, too. It’s time our homeless started being treated like people entitled to Human Rights, too, It’s time to house our homeless as if they were human beings, not illegal migrants.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *