One person was arrested and a glass door was smashed, as protesters opposed to so-called “street sweeps” descended on Vancouver City Hall Wednesday afternoon.
Demonstrators with the Stop the Sweeps Coalition rallied on the steps of city hall calling for an end to the practice, before police say they attempted to disrupt a meeting in progress inside.
City councillors were debating the controversial Broadway Plan on Wednesday.
The group “briefly occupied the building’s lobby,” before police escorted them outside, VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said.
Police said one person was arrested for mischief in relation to the smashed glass.
City Coun. Melissa De Genova took to Twitter to describe the protest as ” violence & vandalism and terrorizing staff or members of the public.”
“The chanting ‘stop the sweeps’ outside Vancouver City Hall all day was fine until they started breaking doors and putting others in unsafe situations,” she wrote.
“Street sweeps” refer to how City of Vancouver engineering staff with support from Vancouver police regularly patrol the Downtown Eastside, gathering items from the sidewalks and removing them in dump trucks.
The protesters say the practice unfairly targets the street homeless and DTES residents who rely on public space, and allege people have had items ranging from survival gear and important documents to irreplaceable personal mementos taken.
In a statement to Global News last week, the City of Vancouver said crews are trained to only take abandoned items, and not personal possessions.
“For the past 3 months, City staff have been meeting with the community including VANDU, Pivot and people with lived experience on these issues,” it said.
“The Engineering Services Department, who oversee the street cleaning work, have been part of these meetings which aim to develop long-term solutions to create a safe way for everyone to keep streets clear. We value the communities’ collaboration on this issue.”
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