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  Thursday, Dec 14, 2017 

POV News

Sweet and Sour

Homeless lose court battle to stay at Sugar Mountain



Sugar Mountain homeless are being forced out of Sugar Mountain Male Ridge this week.

esidents of Sugar Mountain Tent City were served a trespassing notice on December 12. They have been asked to leave by Friday, December 15th by 12:00pm. Wade, head of security at Sugar Mountain, noted that “last week they said the end of the month. Now it’s changed.”


Knowing that their only other options are to languish in shelters or camp out in isolation and hidden from the public eye, residents are responding resoundingly that they will not go; Wade upon receiving the notice to vacate said: “I don’t want to leave. I would rather stay here and block the fence. If they kick us out, we’ll just find another place to camp. We don’t want to go into shelters.”


John, a resident from Sugar Mountain stated: “I’ve been on the BC Housing lists for over seven years.” He also mentioned that he is concerned that there is no guarantee that people from Sugar Mountain will be used in the modular housing units. Another person at Sugar Mountain asked “why this lot? There are a bunch of empty lots in Vancouver that are not occupied!”    

The City's injunction against the Ten Year Tent City was turned down in May, as the Supreme Court recognized homeless people's rights to safety and security. Like the trespass order that displaced Ten Year Tent City to the Sugar Mountain site, this one similarly violates the rights of homeless residents. The City's push to decamp Sugar Mountain without providing dignified housing continues its pattern of dehumanizing homeless people and sentencing them to invisibility and death.

Our demands are clear: build emergency modular housing in the place of shelter beds as well as announce and start the construction of new, tenant-run non-market housing. The City's plan to build modular housing on the Sugar Mountain site does not justify the forced displacement of its current residents, nor does the plan reflect their stated needs and demands. The City of Vancouver (land), BC Housing (tenancy), and Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (units) plans to staff the modular units with PHS workers, directly invalidating calls for tenant-run housing. Supportive housing is not an appropriate alternative to shelters and tent cities: it normalizes the institutional control of poor people and results in increased surveillance, criminalizing, and isolation. The notice to vacate and the PHS-staffed modular housing plan are attempts to politically disempower homeless people and reflect a broader government trend to repress rather than address voices from the community.

Organized tent cities have successfully resisted injunctions and displacement, eliciting the attention and recognition needed to articulate their demands and call out against the violence enacted on low-income populations by all three levels of government, police, and social workers. The City's notice to vacate seeks to smash the collective power of self-organized homeless communities. By relegating residents to unsafe and isolating conditions, the City also relegates residents to spaces where protest is impossible and where their demands are sure to go unheard. We know that the only alternatives are cramped shelters, slumlord controlled SROs, prison-like supportive housing facilities, or jail itself. The City cannot continue to punish people for being poor. At Sugar Mountain, we refuse to leave!


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