Court Adjourns for Saanich's Request of an Injunction in Regina Park Tent City
Yesterday the District of Saanich and the Province of BC concluded a five-day court hearing on the applications for injunction against the occupants of Regina Park.
Mr. John Heaney, The lawyer representing Chrissy Brett and the residents of the Regina Park encampment, took to the stand to challenge the City of Saanich's claims. One of the main talking points was the fact the those in the tent city had no other options for housing, stating that BC Housing had identified only 8 of the 107 people for suitable housing. Mr. Heany noted that displacement of the camp without other options for the residents would only lead to displacement, and migration to another area.
He also said it was not reasonable for the city of Saanich to request that the campers pack up each day. Heaney stated that it was not reasonable for people to pack their belongings each day, while storage lockers are being provided, he stated there are not enough and they are too far away. He continued that those residents, who are working, are not able to bring their belongings with them each day.
Fire safety and suppression was another main talking point, as the residents of the encampment were requesting fire extinguishers and training. Mr. John Heaney stated the Saanich Fire Department offers free training in home to those who request it, and asked why they would not provide similar training to those living at Regina Park tent city. The judge responded to that question saying that such training and other resources would not be provided until the 11 fire safety requirements were met by the campers.
Mr. John Heaney stated that one of the requirements not being met, adequate spacing of tents, was because some female campers were circling their tents for safety. They had their doors all facing inwards for a greater sense of security. This was breaking the fire safety requirement to have a 1 metre buffer zone before tents.
Another reason that Saanich Fire Department said it would not provide fire suppression equipment is that it would provide a false sense of security for people at the encampment. The judge reiterated that if the 11 fire safety requirements were met first, Saanich FD would be more open to providing training and fire suppression tools.
When closing statements were made the Mr. Jeff Locke, the lawyer representing the municipality, claimed that the encampment is a traffic safety issue and requested that residents be moved 10 metres further from the side of the road. In a rebuttal Mr. John Heaney stated there was no concrete evidence that the campers at Regina Park tent city was negatively affecting traffic in the area.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Branch has chosen to reserve his judgement with a decision and reasons to be provided at 9 a.m. on Friday, September 7.