B.C. Supreme Court judge orders Saanich tent city residents to leave after granting injunction
A B.C. Supreme Court judge granted an injunction against residents of a tent city in Saanich Friday, giving them less than a week to leave the area.
Residents of the Regina Park encampment, known locally as Camp Namegans, were told they have until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11 to pack up and leave, after which the area will be fenced off.
The judge cited a major fire risk and ongoing non-compliance as the main reasons for the injunction, which calls for the park to be restored to its original state.
Chrissy Brett, a spokesperson for the roughly 100 residents of the tent city, wouldn’t say definitively whether the residents would comply with the injunction.
“We’re already created some conversations with the local police department [on the] best ways to deal with the outcome of this decision,” Brent said, “[and] we’ll continue to work with the officials who are actually willing to work with some of the people at the encampment.”
“I think there are options, whether or not people are still there at seven o’clock will be things that individuals need to make.”
The city of Saanich says it will provide support during move out day, but wouldn’t provide specifics about whether there are homes for the vacating residents to go to.
WATCH: Chrissy Brett responds to injunction
“Saanich will treat the vulnerable persons vacating the park with dignity and care throughout the decampment process,” said Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell.
“Saanich’s parks and management control bylaw allows temporary overnight shelter in 102 of Saanich’s 172 parks from the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.”
The court has also ruled that the park must be restored to its original state by the time the deadline is up.
The camp has been in place at Regina Park next to Highway 1 and Harriet Road since May, and has been at the centre of fights between residents, the District of Saanich and the province ever since.
On June 29, Saanich’s fire commissioner issued an order related to “fire and life safety hazards,” which included requirements for tents to be moved farther apart, the removal of flammable objects and other precautionary measures.
Days later, a female resident was arrested after allegedly blasting an air horn in the ear of a firefighter. Fire crews, along with police and Saanich Parks staff had been there to “help those encamped at the park achieve voluntary compliance,” according to a Saanich police media release.
On Sunday, a tent was destroyed in a fire and “possible explosion,” though no one was hurt. Police blamed the fire on a discarded cigarette.
WATCH: Residents and homeless advocates protest removal of Regina Park tent city. Kylie Stanton reports.
Residents have said that until the district and the province build more affordable housing, tent cities like this one shouldn’t be broken up or torn down.
“They should step back from these attempts to destroy homeless people’s self-organizing, and instead they should build homes so that no one is living on the street,” said Ivan Drury, a resident of the Anita Place tent city in Maple Ridge, at a rally in Victoria last month.
With files from Richard Zussman, Simon Little and Kylie Stanton
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