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A man walks through a tent city at Oppenheimer Park, in downtown Vancouver, on Aug. 21, 2019.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Park board commissioners in Vancouver have voted not to seek an injunction that would have cleared a tent encampment from a Downtown Eastside park.

Commissioners heard from 22 speakers during a lengthy emergency meeting on Thursday to consider a response to the more than six– month-long encampment at Oppenheimer Park.

Representatives from Vancouver City Hall as well as the police and fire departments all spoke in favour of an injunction during the meeting.

Commissioner Camil Dumont agreed tents are unwanted but said clearing them should be more collaborative and peaceful.

His motion calling for shelter or permanent housing for park campers was eventually adopted in a 4-2 vote.

The park board has been facing mounting pressure to get an injunction to clear Oppenheimer Park or hand over jurisdiction to the city.

City officials issued eviction notices in August over what it said were safety concerns, and more than half of the roughly 200 campers accepted other accommodation, although others refused to budge.

That prompted Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart to urge the park board to temporarily give jurisdiction of Oppenheimer to the city. He argued the city is better able to negotiate with senior governments on behalf of the campers.

Stewart also said those who refused to leave might need a “nudge” to make the move to social housing.

The park board, not the city, has complete jurisdiction over Vancouver parks and it rebuffed Stewart’s suggestion that it hand over interim control of the Park.

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