UPDATE: Judge rules in favor of dismantling tent city in Regina Park
A Supreme Court Justice has granted interim injunction requests from the District of Saanich and the Provincial government to clear out at tent city at Regina Park by next Tuesday night at 7pm.
Campers have been occupying the undeveloped municipal park land since late April, growing to an estimated 112 people.
In handing down his decision Mr. Justice Ward Branch noted numerous issues, the most urgent being the continuing and unremediated fire risk posing a danger to residents and the surrounding neighbourhood.
The judge says several orders to vacate have gone unheeded, and orders to address fire safety have had minimal impact.
Branch also noted the substantial health and safety risks posed by the tent city -- including drug paraphernalia and drug dealing, the presence of feces and rats, crime and security of the neighbourhood.
Branch also recognized the lengths to which the District of Saanich has gone to try to assist and provide services to the campers stating costs are escalating, and are estimated to reach $950-thousand by the end of the year.
Branch says while more needs to be done to address homelessness, SOME more IS being done, and he listed several affordable housing projects completed and announced, and efforts to work with those in the camp wanting housing. Currently 12 people are receiving services.
Outside the court, tent city spokesperson Chrissy Brett expressed disappointment at the decision, saying homeless residents now be forced into the shadows where they will be at risk:
"This will cost lives. There will be more lives lost on the streerts, and in dumpsers and donations bins, and through overdoses."
Asked if campers will abide by the court-imposed deadline Brett says she can't say yet.
Plans are to erect a fence around the park and begin testing for soil contamination, followed by remediation period of up to 3 weeks.
Fireproofed wood chips are to be placed on the grounds so that it can be more safely used for overnight camping down the road.
Today's injunction is for the interim and prevents daylight camping. A more permanent solution will be sought during a trial to take place within the next 10 months at which campers will argue they have a constitutional right to camp at the site 24 hours a day.