Questions about camping in Vancouver parks.

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by glcwhistler, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. glcwhistler

    glcwhistler Paddler

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    We just arrived home from a overnight trip to Vancouver. We picked up some food and walked over to Crab Park ( just past Gastown) last night. It is pretty dark throughout the park, especially along the beach. There were people with their dogs and others just sitting looking out over the water.

    We sat on a log and began eating, I start to look around and tent after tent starts coming into view back in the park area. I Just Googled 'Homeless in Crab Park' and started looking through some of the Courts decisions on homeless peoples rights on public land.

    Now looking through the forums and seeing the new laws they are putting around Stanley Parks waters.. Why does it seem they are taking away rights from contributing people in society and giving away public space to others?

    As it pertains to Kayaking.. Aren't the courts opening up a can of worms that anyone could be 'temporarily homeless' for a night, or two and set up a tent on any public park or space? Lets just say someone was to kayak into vancouver and wanted to "camp", sorry, "be homeless" for a night on either English Bay or Sunset Beach Park? Would it be safe or wise to do so? Probably not, but at this rate you really wouldn't be breaking the law, or at least have any hassle from the police?

    They got rid of the flotilla of squatters in False Creek, now the parks throughout the city are open to tents? I am from the Seattle area and it is similar in certain places in Seattle proper, but certainly not all.

    I am just wondering what kind of message it sends and what it does to 'No Camping' rules that have been in place and enforced for decades.

    There aren't really any places in Victoria to 'camp'. Does this open up 'camping' to anyone in any public park after 7 pm and up till 9 am the next morning? Same goes for Vancouver and other shoreline areas. It just seems that the courts ruling opens up any park for setting up a tent for the night.

    I also wonder what it says about paying for sites that are open to camping on provincial land? Can anyone just decide not to stay in a site and set up in any park gazebo like they do in Crab Park?

    Common courtesy has fallen by the wayside throughout our modern civilizations. Have nothing to lose and you get away with things that those who have something to lose don't get away with?

    I am just wondering if these rulings are opening up more issues down the road? I'd like to camp on a nice Vancouver Beach if I paddled into the area, it is like they are saying it is ok, common sense and common decency seems like the only thing not having everyone doing it. How long will that last?

    cluster-of-homeless-tents-crab-park-vancouver-british-columbia-canada-kf2j6t.jpg
     
  2. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Camping/sleeping in Crab park and it's neighbouring parks and streets are not really about common courtesy but more about how the city has been planned: this area has a high density of services that therefore concentrates a high population of the lesser advantaged members of our society. Walk down [be careful] any of the alleyways in this area at any time of the day and you will see what I mean in relation to alleyways in other areas of Vancouver.

    As well, a higher population of disadvantaged are more able to street survive in the milder climates of Vancouver/Victoria compared to other parts of Canada.

    So the fact that some of these people are setting up tents late in the day and taking them down early in the morning is actually a credit to their common courtesy in the face of desperate drug/mental/economic/social situations.

    I worked [as a designer] in that area for more than 2 decades and witnessed many faces of our society both good and horrible, and have great sympathy for whatever situations most there find themselves in [but of course, was keeping my eyes wide open]. As a society, we can do better [and many are trying] to help/support these people to making transitions back to more well being. I think the most heart breaking changes that I saw down there were the changes that came over young [especially indigenous ] girls who obviously were escaping something only to be enmired with other demons.

    **

    however . . .
    turning the viewer 180 degrees and looking at ourselves with conceit and self interest, there are obvious aspects of this we could and probably should exploit. As the courts often allow some interpretation to these issues, possibly in cases where a paddler is in relatively dire need of an overnight stop and a park just happens to be nearby - that it could be used to set up a tent for a quick overnight stay.

    Possibly.

    And that possibility is worth contemplating in certain areas/situations. At least it certainly is a conversation that members of the BC Marine Trails have had over time.
     
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  3. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    I chalk this one up to that old dynamic: Canada looks a lot like the United States at first glance, but scratch the surface, and you find that the two societies are very different.

    Both countries have camping regulations. Both countries' cities frequently ban people from urban camping. Only in the US, however, are urban camping bans enforceable against all persons, no matter how destitute. In Canada, urban camping bans are enforceable against most persons but not against the most destitute persons.

    The difference is that the US Constitution's Bill of Rights provides many fewer protections against unwarranted government harassment than does the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In Canada, citizens have the right to life, liberty, and security of the person, plus an additional right not to have those first three rights taken away without due process. In the US, citizens have the right not to have their life, liberty, or property taken away without due process, but unlike in Canada, the rights themselves to life, liberty, and property are not afforded independent, standalone effect.

    Thus, in the US, if a homeless person is evicted from a park, a court asks only whether he was given due process during the eviction. In Canada, a court asks first whether the homeless person's rights to life, liberty, and security are being violated by the eviction, and then asks whether he was also given due process during the eviction.

    You can see an illustration of the weaker US rights at work in this news article from Seattle. In the article, advocates for the homeless argue that anti-homeless sweeps are unconstitutional because the sweeping procedures are defective: They don't provide adequate notice to the homeless or adequate procedure for getting their belongings back. It's all about the procedure being unjust, not the result being unjust.

    In Canada, advocates could raise that same procedural argument plus an argument that the sweeping itself violates homeless citizens' rights no matter how carefully the sweep is conducted. It's about the procedure being unjust, plus the result being unjust.

    Because homeless people by definition have no home to go to, a homeless person's right to life, liberty, and security is violated if he is evicted from a park without being provided some safe, healthy alternative location to which to retreat. In the US, this violation is of no legal consequence, because there is no right to life, liberty, or security. In Canada, the violation is of legal consequence, because there is a right to life, liberty, and security.

    I assume GLCWhistler, as a border-crossing recreational kayaker who posts on the internet, does have a home or other safe place to retreat to. It would therefore be no violation of his rights, even under Canadian law, to evict him from camping in an urban park.

    Alex
     
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  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Living in a small coastal community (pop 10,000) that abuts heavily forested terrain, some of it steep and rugged, owned by the city, we have many homeless camping rough outside the view of the average person. And, others who select an out of the way doorway recess for shelter on a cold night.

    The cops check on the occasional visitor who sets up a tent in a concealed area of one of the several smaller semiforested parks within the residential/urban core, more or less alloting a couple nights as a courtesy to nonthreatening (good ID, no outstanding warrants, no recent incidents in our city) travelors. One was Daniel ... known well to longtime WCP devotees ... who paddled a skin and frame boat from Vancouver to Astoria, liked the town a lot, and ferreted out more permanent digs for about a month, and then went back to Canada.

    This arrangement seems to work, becoming sketchy when subfreezing weather sets in, and the carefully managed warming center runs out of space for overnight sleepers.

    I know a couple of them who sleep rough in the forest, but do not want to know where they camp.

    Is this humane, or "right?" Who knows. It seems to work.
     
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  5. glcwhistler

    glcwhistler Paddler

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    Alex, your last paragraph is one I thought about too.

    Any traveler going into a foreign country is supposed to be able show that they have the financial ability to take care of themselves while in the country they are visiting. So, I totally get that a non citizen would fall under a different category and be scrutinized far differently.

    But.. What about any Canadian citizen who wants to push it? What are the implications there? What about an individual who doesn't mind sleeping outside and wants to save money not paying rent? A membership to a gym where you can shower and sleeping in a tent is far cheaper than paying rent.

    They are opening a can of worms for individuals to take advantage of the situation. As far as the homeless go? A family or individual who has fallen on hard times is far different than a drug addict who steals to get enough money for their next fix. If anything.. The homeless population should be categorized into different groups. Those who who never stopped trying to be part of society and are trying to get their feet back under them. Then you have the ones who have checked out and have no plans, or desire to make the changes they need to make to re enter society.

    To see the parks and public areas filled with drug users and degenerates is a sad state of affairs. The rulings just give an inch and will be taken a mile, as is human nature. I love Canada and I miss the properness that it once had.

    How long till the places outside of the metro area start to degrade and are taken over? I bet it has already begun and these rulings just open it up to even more issues for the future.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  6. tiagosantos

    tiagosantos Paddler

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    edit: nevermind.
     
  7. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Me, too.

    This gets 'political' in a hurry.....
     
  8. glcwhistler

    glcwhistler Paddler

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    I swear I wasn't trying to be political.

    I have studied through John Kimatas' books and maps he has put together about where you can camp throughout BC's coast. I was seriously curios about the implications of the rulings and how it effects the way parks and public spaces can be used for overnight camping. I am not talking traditional camping with campfires and smores, but all the rules of overnighting at any park or public domaine seems to be wide open to anyone who sets up a tent and claims to be homeless.

    It could be looked at as a bad thing, or as a good thing. If I am seeing how it could be abused by people, I am sure others do too and have already. Reading through the forums through the years on camping and the people who have had run ins with less than good quality neighbors as campmates in those limited designated areas. They could, in all fairness to the letter of the law, camp anywhere they choose as long as it isn't on private property.

    If someone says.. "You can't camp here." Anyone could say "I am not camping, I am homeless. The courts say I can be set up here from 7pm to 9am." That pretty much makes it a free for all.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  9. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Aside from parks, the public land aspect of what you imply is what the BC Marine Trails is trying to exploit: in public lands, one can stay in one place for up to 2 weeks. In these cases, the BCMTNA attempts to get some form of security for locations of interest - as much of the coastlines are unsuitable for us.
    But as you may imagine there are many, many competing interests that threaten the continuity of sites we 'know' about - to the point that some have been destroyed, some have been closed [yes, most definititely park locations], and many have been assigned for those other competing interests commercial and otherwise.

    But as you say or imply, in the case of any metro park, it is an issue that should be very carefully exploited by 'us' at a basic planning level - as there sure could be opportunities in some of these most populated areas. I'm thinking in terms of areas that might not be so easily accessed by land and therefore may provide just that extra layer of security and so a planning case could be made.

    [And I guess I was being a little political: Crab Park and the downtown eastside were where I spent a whole lot of time and I have a sensitivity to some of the issues down there. . . but we should leave those discussions as is. ]
     
  10. glcwhistler

    glcwhistler Paddler

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    I love Crab Park, I love the whole of Vancouver. To me it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, it is sad to see the direction it is heading in recent years, along with so many other cities along the west coast.

    The people on here are the kind of people I look forward to seeing when I go out to the places I enjoy. I am scared of what might become of the places so many of us have come to enjoy. Rules were put in place decades ago to keep some sort of order in those places we were limited to, for us and for future generations.

    When the courts open up new freedoms to an already strained system, such as parks and other public places, turning a blind eye to people who aren't the most savory of characters, who feel they are above, or I guess below the law. What I don't get.. Why do so many homeless destroy an area they take over? Garbage, vandalism, drugs and used needles that pose a health threat to anyone in the area. Hell, crime in general goes up anywhere that these encampments show up.

    I don't know what the solution is to such a huge epidemic. I don't think anyone does.

    I just was surprised that I saw posters and signs saying how smoking was illegal in any park, then you go to the park and it is a bunch of people in their tents smoking away. It kinda shows that smoking isn't really the biggest issue effecting the parks lately. God forbid some kid goes to the park and ingests any second hand smoke. I would be more worried about little Johnny stepping on a needle than someone smoking a cigarette.

    I guess I don't see how this is going to work out well for anyone. But if you are given lemons, might as well make lemonade out of bad situation? Free camping without anyone needing to worry about smoking or drug use from a few homeless people with sea kayaks.
     
  11. Roy222

    Roy222 Paddler

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    History has a way of putting a perspective on current issues. Read Grapes of wrath .
    That book started a the social thinking that now gives rights of criminal behavior to "the underprivileged "
    So leave your ID at home and "rough camp" anywhere anytime. I you get caught just tell the cop " I am homeless and I have a right to use anyone's property . Property onwers don't have rights.