The eventual fate of almost 100 homeless individuals has moved into a Victoria court room after the District of Saanich has filed a court injunction against Camp Namegans, the official name of the tent city at Regina Park.
The municipality said in a release Tuesday morning its court injunction filed Monday in British Columbia Supreme Court calls on camp residents to immediately vacate Regina Park to “allow for fire risks and other hazards in the park to be addressed.”
Saanich said the continued occupation of Regina Park “has and continues to negatively impact on the local residential and business community” in violation of Saanich’s bylaws.
The encampment has also placed an “enormous burden” on Saanich’s financial resources, including required support from police, fire, and parks staff, it reads.
At the same time, it continues to remain unsafe for the occupants, first responders and others who may visit the park, it reads.
Authorities have scheduled a hearing for the week of August 13.
Many have expected this move, after Saanich and the provincial government had issued three earlier notices, with two coming from Saanich. It posted a “notice to vacate” on June 8 and a “notice to cease occupation” on July 12.
“Saanich issued these notices with the goal of achieving voluntary compliance,” it reads. “In reply, the occupants have indicated they intend to maintain the encampment.”
Saanich said the camp residents may use 102 of Saanich’s 172 parks for temporary overnight shelter from the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m., including Regina Park.
Saanich also said that it continues to assist the provincial government by exploring options for social housing, but lacks the means to fund or develop new social housing on its own.
“Responsibility for social housing, mental health care and treatment and support for addictions rests with the province, and Saanich will continue to support the province in its efforts to invest in solutions to these issues,” it reads.
Ashley Mollison, a community organizer, who has been working with the camp, declined to comment on the filing Tuesday morning until a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning.
#Nanaimo filed an injunction against DisconTent City. #Saanich is now getting ready to do the same. In 2016, the court injunction against the Victoria courthouse lawn tent city came close to 1M in legal fees. Fighting tent cities is NOT the solution. @aimollison #saanichnews
— Marilou Gagnon RNPhD (@mlgagnon_XVII) July 23, 2018
Tuesday’s move, however, did not come as surprise. Camp organizer Chrissy Brett and others had predicted it, and Marilou Gagnon, who has been working with the camp, issued a preemptive tweet earlier this week, in which she questioned Saanich’s direction.
Among other points, she raised the potential cost of the move.
“In 2016, the court injunction against the Victoria courthouse lawn tent city came close to [$1 million] in legal fees,” she tweeted.