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Parks to replace beds?

A city parks commissioner wants to know how the pending closure of 600 shelter beds in Vancouver will impact the number of homeless sleeping in parks.

A city parks commissioner wants to know how the pending closure of 600 shelter beds in Vancouver will impact the number of homeless sleeping in parks.

Provincial funding for the city’s three HEAT and four winter response homeless shelters is scheduled to run out at the end of April.

“Once they close, we’re going to have potentially 600 people without shelter,” said Vision Comm. Raj Hundal.

“There’ll be a number of them forced to go onto the streets and of course seek shelter in our public parks.”

In a motion at last night’s park board meeting, Hundal asked staff for a report on the implications for parks that the closures may have.

He said he wasn’t sure how long it would take to produce the report, but said that ideally work would begin right away and be completed as soon as possible.

He’s also asked that the province be encouraged to continue to develop and fund interim housing and shelters for the city’s homeless.

“There’s no question that this will have an impact,” Hundal said. “If the provincial government were to stop funding these shelters ... it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back.”