Vancouver: The City of Vancouver on Wednesday initiated its drive to clear tents and structures in the East Hasting area. 

The city had also requested support from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to bring the East Hastings encampment to a close. 

The city says following a steady deterioration in public safety and an increase in fires in the area and the encampment zone, this step has been initiated. 

In a press release issued in the morning, the city said crews with assistance from members of the VPD, would be working to remove all remaining entrenched tents and structures in the area.

The number of tents is said to be 80 in total. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said the encampment of people living in tents and other structures on the city’s Hastings Street has reached a turning point and needs to be shut down.

He said violence and fire pose a significant risk to the people living in the encampment and the affordable rentals nearby.

VPD chief Adam Palmer said it’s becoming increasingly challenging to keep people safe in an encampment in the Downtown Eastside. He said 19 police officers have been assaulted. 

In a tweet, VPD said people within the protest group threw projectiles at officers and sprayed them with fire extinguishers. The police said one person was taken into custody.

The police also formed a line between protestors and city crews to create a safe space for them to continue working within the encampment.

In the evening, the Vancouver police said they were in the process of reopening traffic in both directions on Hastings Street.

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