One person was arrested and a glass door was smashed as protesters opposed to the so-called “sweeps” gathered at Vancouver City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Demonstrators from the Stop the Sweeps coalition gathered on the steps of City Hall calling for an end to the practice before police said they tried to disrupt a rally inside.
On Wednesday, city council members discussed the controversial Broadway plan.
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The group “briefly occupied the lobby of the building” before police escorted them outside, VPD spokesman Sgt. Steve Addison said.
Police said one person was arrested for disorderly conduct involving broken glass.
Borough Melissa De Genova tweeted that the protest is “violence and vandalism and intimidation of employees or members of the public.”
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“Singing ‘stop sweeping’ outside Vancouver City Hall was fine all day until they started breaking down doors and putting others in unsafe situations,” she wrote.
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“Sweeping the streets” refers to how the City of Vancouver engineering staff, backed by the Vancouver Police, regularly patrol downtown Eastside, picking up items from sidewalks and hauling them into dump trucks.
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Protesters say the practice unfairly targets street homeless and DTES residents who rely on public space, and claim items ranging from life-saving gear and important documents to irreplaceable personal mementos have been taken from people.
In a statement to Olx Praca last week, the city of Vancouver said crews are trained to only accept abandoned items, not personal items.
“Over the past 3 months, city staff have been meeting with the community, including VANDU, Pivot and people with life experience on these issues,” the post reads.
“The Engineering Services Department, which oversees street cleaning, participated in these meetings to develop long-term solutions to create a safer way for everyone to keep the streets clean. We appreciate the cooperation of the communities on this matter.”