Frances Street Squats

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A set of six squatted houses, including one women-only squat, that existed between February and November 27, 1990 in Vancouver in one of the most successful public squats in Canada.

Going public[edit]

An early press release by the squatters stated: “We are some of the many squatters in Vancouver who are occupying several of the hundreds of habitable houses left vacant by developers. These houses have been slated for demolition and gentrification. In the face of unregulated rent increases, and out of necessity, we have chosen to squat as one of many viable means of protesting this atrocity. Housing is not a luxury, it is a right, and these houses are available now. New developments must be kept within an affordable price range for all people presently affected by the housing crisis. We are currently organizing various neighbourhood inclusive community events (potluck barbecues, daycare facilities, community gardening and recycling) in an effort to open up communication between squatters and paying tenants. We intend to defend these houses. We have been forced to go public at this time because we are in danger of losing our homes.” [1]

Community support[edit]

Although the squatters were threatened with arrest for “assault by trespass” they gained widespread support from neighbours, the community and area organizations Downtown Eastside Residents Association and Grandview-Woodland Area Council because of their community-based approach.[2]


The squats ended when the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) deployed at least 100 officers to evict the squatters.[3] 12 were charged with mischief and obstructing a police officer.[4]

Prior to the police operation media liaison officer Bob Cooper claimed the VPD had “very reliable information that radical elements have taken control of the issue” and that squatters were in possession of “three shotguns, two handguns, molotov-cocktails, and other homemade weapons.” [5]


After the eviction no weapons were found and the police action was subsequently dubbed “Operation Overkill” by the community. Two days later the city council, under then-mayor Gordon Campbell and with the full support of opposition members (including Libby Davies), declared the houses a “public nuisance” and granted a demolition permit.

The Beat of Frances Street[edit]

A 48-minute documentary, The Beat of Frances Street: Squatting in East Vancouver, was produced during the late and final stages of the squats. The first half of the film contains footage of everyday life in the houses and presents responses to the question “why do you squat?” by fourteen residents. The second half of the film focuses on internal arguments over the use of barricades against imminent police assault and documentation of the assault itself (including commercial news footage) and community response.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vancouver Squatters Alliance, press release (1990); quoted in Keeping Time, “Vancouver Squatters Movement History” ( Accessed 18 May 2008.
  2. ^ Paul Dayson, “Squatters Face Homelessness”, The Summer Ubyssey 9:5 (2 August 1990): 3.
  3. ^ Graham Cameron, “Police Assault Unarmed Squatters”, The Ubyssey 73:25 (30 November 1990): 3.
  4. ^ Martin Chester, “Squatting: Public and Publicized”, The Ubyssey 73:26 (8 January 1991): 7.
  5. ^ Quoted in Graham Cameron, “Police Assault Unarmed Squatters”, The Ubyssey 73:25 (30 November 1990): 3.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°16′46″N 123°04′05″W / 49.2794°N 123.0681°W / 49.2794; -123.0681