Warming tent now open — Day 2 of cultural fast to maintain warmth and safety at Oppenheimer Park

PRESS CONFERENCE: January 17, 2020, 9:00 am, Oppenheimer Park (corner Jackson and Powell Streets)

Jan. 17, 2020 Unceded territories: Despite record low temperature and driving snow this week, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) and the City of Vancouver continue to deny life-saving warming tents in Oppenheimer Park. In a letter, city staff stated:

“Heating tents or other temporary structures, whether in Oppenheimer Park or elsewhere, poses significant fire and other safety hazards, thus making it very difficult to maintain an acceptable level of safety.” 

Both Vancouver Park Board operated events the Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Botanical Garden and the Polar Bear Swim had public warming tents. VFRS and Park Board were also provided with information about city-sanctioned warming tents in Maple Ridge and Kelowna as well as facilities such as Brock House and Hart House which operate rented heated tents for weddings and other events. 

Gusting winds, snow and rain and below freezing temperatures cause significant vulnerability and injury to homeless people and tent city residents. In response, a warming tent has now opened in Oppenheimer Park. 

Tent city liaison Chrissy Brett states:

“Before the warming tent was open all we had was a ceremonial fire to warm people. Now thanks to two generous men whose family members frequent(ed) the DTES, rented heaters started our first shift at the warming tent. The heater they rented and the smaller version community donations bought are both rated #1 safest propane heating device through reviews.

“This is Day 2 of a cultural fast praying that VFRS approve a “legal” way to heat and light the warming, overdose prevention, culture, programs and donation tents to start with. We are asking that Indigenous Elders and spiritual and religious people come help support us and join us to pray for change and more humanity from Vancouver and every municipality, province, territory across so called KKKanada. We also ask all other spiritual groups and religions to step up and help us pray to keep people alive and warm, donate hot food, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and snacks.”

Oppenheimer Park is located on the occupied, unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

WHAT: Press conference

WHEN: January 17, 2020, 9:00 am

WHERE: Oppenheimer Park (corner Jackson and Powell Streets)

SPEAKERS: Chrissy Brett, Tent City Liaison, Erica Grant, DTES Housing Advocate, Patrick, Oppenheimer Park resident