Council was told security hired to prevent encampments wouldn’t make arrests. One councillor is questioning why city documents say otherwise.
“I think there’s some disconnect between what the public actually sees when they come to city halls and what the city has told them,” councillor Michelle Berardinetti said. “The mayor spoke for the City of Vancouver and said we’re not going to enforce the camp ban, and there were no enforcement mechanisms when it came down to the actual campers.
“It just made me question the city’s credibility on this issue.”
The documents the city provided to the B.C. Civil Liberties Association show staff at the time of the camp ban have a much more detailed record of actual enforcement, which would have been much easier to keep secret.
The city records have been classified for several years, and even now the police board is refusing to release the documents to civil liberties lawyers.
But the Association of Vancouver Communities has appealed to the city for access to the records, arguing they demonstrate they were told by staff in September 2018 the camp ban was in place and could be enforced.
“The city is not making this up,” association president Robert Taro Green said. “It is documented, it is published, the mayor has been clear this camp ban should have been enforced.”
The civil liberties association’s executive director, Jim Breslin, said it was “a very disappointing situation” that the city went to such lengths to try to hide documents.
“Allowing a small group of people to go to jail in the city of Vancouver is incredibly harmful to everyone,” he said. “A person who is living in a tent should not have to pay a fine because the city doesn’t want to go against the wishes of the mayor. And we do not want to be the police force of a tent city.”
In the documents, police wrote staff were told “police are not required to enforce the camp permit ban” and staff were given the ability to issue fines “if they are deemed a reasonable deterrent.”
The camp ban was first put in place by then-councillor Sam Sullivan in