Occupier given city-paid phone
Brody Williams with his city-paid cellphone. (ADA SLIVINSKI/24 HOURS)
The Vancouver Park Board has given a cellphone to one of the campers illegally occupying Oppenheimer Park.
Brody Williams, the organizer of the tent city, says the Park Board gave him the Blackberry phone so it would be easier to stay in touch with him.
“People wanted to get a hold of me,” he said.
The city confirmed the phone was given to Williams by the Park Board and directed questions to Daria Wojnarski, communications officer for the Park Board. However, she refused to comment or provide any more information about how much money the phone cost or the reason why it was provided.
“Actually, I don’t know anything about the cellphone and unfortunately there’s nobody available to comment on it,” said Wojnarski. “We’re declining comment.”
Williams said he is the only one who was given a phone, but would not say who specifically from the Park Board gave it to him.
“I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say,” he said.
The answering machine on the phone plays the standard Park Board message.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that taxpayer dollars would go towards a cell phone for someone who’s illegally occupying a Vancouver park,” said Jordan Bateman from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “What other bylaw breakers are going to get perks like this?”
Bateman said that if the Park Board is going to make “stupid decisions like this,” they should explain their actions.
Williams is the organizer of a group of around 40 protesters who have set up tents in Oppenheimer Park to demand a solution to the problem of homelessness in the Vancouver. The city originally issued them an eviction notice, as bylaws prohibit camping in a public park, but later came out in support of the group.