Members of a growing tent city near Vancouver’s CRAB Park are due back in court Thursday to fight the port’s demand that they leave.
The homeless camp, which has grown to about 60 tents over the past few weeks, is in a parking lot owned by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
It sprang up in May after the B.C. government began to transfer campers at Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside into temporary housing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The port filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court last month, naming camp organizer and homeless rights’ activist Chrissy Brett.
Lawyer Amandeep Singh, who is set to represent the campers, said he plans to argue that it’s safer for the group to seek shelter in the parking lot than to move around during the pandemic.
“Encampments have been shown to be safe,” Singh said.
“Even the (Center for Disease Control) in the U.S. says — especially in light of the COVID crisis — it’s better to leave people to shelter in place rather than dispersing them throughout community.”
The port authority said staff have asked the campers have refused to leave when asked.
In the documents filed in court, the authority alleges it has suffered losses and damage as a result of the defendants’ trespassing, though that alleged damage was not described.
For her part, Brett has said the group has no plans to vacate the park.
None of the claims has been proven in court.