On July 19, the City of Vancouver issued an email letter to Vancouver Coastal Health declaring the lease for Thomus Donaghy Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in Yaletown will not be renewed in 2024 – only three years after it opened. The decision was praised by ABC Councillor Peter Meiszner, who in the weeks prior had adopted the campaign to shut down the OPS as his personal cause célèbre.
As filmmaker Ryan Sudds states, the documentary “encourages people to take a critical approach to the City of Vancouver’s work, and not believe Mayor Ken Sim when he says that they’re taking a ‘compassionate’ approach to encampments and homelessness.”
The daily seizure and destruction of belongings is part of the systematic decimation of encampments. This violence has happened in cities far and near, including Vancouver and Prince George, but also Toronto, Victoria, Nanaimo, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Los Angeles, Boston and many others. Cities aim to “invisiblize” unhoused people rather than create more livable housing.
With Larwill Place set to close and 700 modular housing units at risk the crisis is set to worsen, argues Jean Swanson. “We are [also] losing a lot of low-income units to fires, to rent increases, to demolitions for redevelopment, to scuzzy landlords who take advantage of vulnerable tenants to just lock them out (like at the Melville Rooms just recently), and because leases on the temporary modulars aren’t being renewed.”