Frances Bula header image 2

Vancouver mayor says Occupy camp “degenerating” and the situation is “frustrating”

November 3rd, 2011 · 156 Comments

Newser at city hall at the tail end of a day that started with a heroin overdose at the Occupy camp.

The fire chief, John McKearney, said protesters are being told they need to get rid of unoccupied tents, clear out garbage, space tents further apart, and get rid of tarps that are spread out over several tents. He also said firefighters found two empty propane bottles, in spite of a prohibition on propane and generators because of the fire dangers.

That was after a young man was found unconscious, I take it, of a drug overdose and, after the camp’s first-aid responder tried CPR, the firefighters on permanent standby at the site were called. McKearney said staff had a hard time getting into the tangle of tents and also getting out, with the garbage, tents sitting on wooden pallets, tents clustered together and the rest.

The incident saw Mayor Gregor Robertson taking on a more negative tone when he spoke afterwards, saying that the situation is “degenerating.”

He noted that other protest or homeless camps Vancouver has had in the past have seen a similar dynamic, where “conditions degenerate and the city doesn’t have a choice, it then has to enforce bylaws.”

And, echoing what I imagine he’s hearing from many, he said he’s “very frustrated” with the camp and “I think everyone in the city has a level of frustration.”

But he wouldn’t set some kind of ultimatum, saying that every time a city has set an ultimatum, it has resulted in more people rallying to the site and some kind of unpleasant showdown, either involving multiple arrests or some kind of violence.

(Oddly, he didn’t mention that, in Oakland, after the camp was cleared out, protests continued and unions there held a general strike, which shut down the port temporarily.)

His line is: “I’ve made it clear the encampment needs to end –but we are looking to achieve an end that is sensible and peaceful.”

He’s also not a fan of just asking the campers to move to another site, as some other cities have, saying that the protest is about global economic issues, not tents, and there are other ways to make the point.

Mayoral challenger Suzanne Anton came to the news conference and said again that the mayor should just deliver an ultimatum. She says that the Vancouver protesters are peaceful and that it’s wrong of the mayor to keep saying they’d be violent. (FTR, in other cities, the violence has arisen when police have started to drag people off or fire tear gas at them.)

Reporters asked if she really thought Vancouver protesters were the type to go quietly and she said yes.

That’s all for today in the ongoing drama, Occupy Vancouver.

Categories: 2011 Vancouver Civic Election