September 13, 2018 9:19 pm

Police clear homeless campers from controversial Saanich tent city

WATCH: Removal of Saanich tent city highlights bigger problems

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Police cleared homeless campers from a controversial tent city in Saanich’s Regina Park on Thursday evening.

The BC Supreme Court granted the District of Saanich an injunction against the encampment, known as Camp Namegans, last Friday.

Campers were given until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, to leave.

READ MORE: B.C. Supreme Court judge orders Saanich tent city residents to leave after granting injunction

The judge’s ruling singled out fire risk and ongoing non-compliance with bylaws in granting the injunction.

On Thursday, Saanich police said the park had been fenced off until work to remediate the park could be completed, and that all of the camp residents had left peacefully.

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Campers, however, said they were displeased with the city’s move to clear the park on Thursday evening, despite the court-ordered deadline having passed.

“Through negotiations with the Saanich police, residents were under the impression that the [District] of Saanich and the police agreed to extend the displacement deadline to Friday at 5 p.m.,” said organizers in a press release.

READ MORE: Tent destroyed by fire at controversial Saanich homeless encampment

“Since making the agreement to extend the camp a few extra days, the police have steadily clamped down and taken control over every aspect of the camp – transforming it from a resident-controlled and Indigenous-led tent city into what supporter Ashley Mollison called a ‘police state.'”

WATCH: B.C. Supreme Court orders Saanich tent city dismantled

Camp Namegans has been in place since May, and its residents have said they are fighting for long-term housing rather than shelters. They have argued with the court order, they are being displaced with nowhere to go.

READ MORE: Safety concerns raised about Saanich tent city

Campers have also cited a constitutional right to camp in the park, pointing to a 2009 Court of Appeal ruling that upheld the right of homeless people to camp in Victoria parks.

The district has argued it is a health and safety hazard.

Earlier this month, a tent was destroyed when it caught on fire — possibly due to a lit cigarette.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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