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Eight Arrested at Fraser Shelter

by murray bush - flux photo

Eight arrests at shelter
Police and circle of those refusing to leave the shelter
Belongings left at the shelter
'Negotiations' with the City
Spreading the message

VANCOUVER - Police arrested eight* housing advocates at the now-closed Fraser Emergency Shelter tonight. The eight refused to leave in a bid to try to keep the low-barrier shelter open. Police said they would be charged with "criminal trespass."   

More than 30 supporters kept watch over the police outside the shelter and many have now headed down to the jail. Some have stayed at the site with plans to camp outside.

The arrests ended an all-day occupation of the city and BC Housing  funded facility. Earlier in the day several activists occupied premier Christy Clark's by-election campaign office, brokering a meeting with Housing Minister Rich Coleman.  Coleman refused all pleas to keep the shelter open including that it is one of the best low-barrier shelters, one of the safest for women and that if it did remain open "would be filled to capacity every night."

RainCity Housing, which operated the shelter, has laid off 22 people as a result of the closures - effective today. RainCity associate director Sean Spear said that while the focus is on the loss for the shelter residents and users, it also deeply affects the staff. He said the now former employees will go on relief lists, but this definitely makes it more difficult for them.

 *Earlier reports put the number arrested at six.

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