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Occupy Vancouver may be forcibly removed

Nov. 5, 2011 at 5:54 PM   |   Comments

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Occupy Vancouver protesters may be forcibly removed from their camp at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the mayor says.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Friday he wants a sensible end to the Occupy Vancouver tent city but admitted authorities may be forced to remove protesters from the premise, CBC News reported.

"They are not complying with the bylaws, all of the city bylaws, particularly with the encampment," Robertson told a news conference Friday. "And now there's concern if the fire bylaws are not respected that the city has no choice but to take action."

Fire officials wanted some tents and tarps removed, deeming them unsafe. A 10 a.m. Friday deadline was set, but protesters did not sufficiently comply.

Fire Captain Gabe Roder issued a statement Friday saying negotiations with the protesters will continue.

"Unfortunately, very little compliance with the order was observed. We are currently working with reps from Occupy Vancouver and will continue to do so throughout the day to ensure compliance of the order is achieved. VFRS will continue a measured approach to ensure life and fire safety on the site."

Protesters issued a statement Friday saying they would restructure the camp but would not meet all of the Fire Department's terms.

"We pride ourselves on creating a safe environment," the unsigned statement said. "We disagree that there is a health and safety violation here. We have a plan to restructure our community but until then, due to basic health and shelter needs, we won't be moving some of our tents. We are not leaving. Come join us. Everyone is welcome."

The issue of safety at the camp came up Thursday after firefighters had difficulty locating a protester in cardiac arrest from an apparent heroin overdose. While looking for the overdosing protester, firefighters found two propane tanks inside tents.

"As all can imagine these tents, not only the tents themselves, the canopies and all the combustible materials that are in there would be a flame thrower if fire did get going in there," said Fire Chief John McKearney. "There must be full visibility, egress and access, on a 24/7 basis."

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