Ontario judge denies request to clear Kitchener encampment citing Charter violation
An Ontario court has denied a municipality's request to clear a homeless encampment, building on recent decisions out of British Columbia that the judge says establish a constitutional right to available and accessible shelter spaces.
The Region of Waterloo was asking the court to find that roughly 50 people living in a Kitchener encampment were in violation of its trespassing bylaw.
But in a ruling handed down Friday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the judge found the bylaw violates the Charter rights of the encampment residents because of the region's lack of adequate shelter spaces.
ustice Michael Valente's ruling cited a number of recent decisions delivered in British Columbia that he says establish a constitutional right to shelter when the number of homeless people exceeds available and accessible indoor spaces in that jurisdiction.
His ruling says the Region of Waterloo had about 416 shelter spaces and roughly 1,100 people experiencing homelessness, with that number having tripled from 2018 to 2021.
The decision comes after a number of similar, but unsuccessful legal challenges to encampment clearings in Toronto and Hamilton.