Saanich tent city residents win first round of legal battle

Saanich tent city residents win first round of legal battle

Injunction hearing for Regina Park tent city adjourned until Aug. 27

Members of the Camp Namegans tent city at Regina Park in Saanich secured an adjournment to the Supreme Court injunction applications from Saanich and the province on Monday.

The hearing could have lasted three days but was adjourned until Aug. 27 when the tent city group’s legal representative, lawyer John Heaney, is available. The Supreme Court decision also came with an expectation that Camp Namegans residents would comply with the fire order from the Office of the Fire Commissioner at Regina Park within 72 hours.

Nanaimo’s Discontent City was also in court Monday where a City of Nanaimo fire safety enforcement order was defeated, which could affect the Saanich ruling, said spokesperson Chrissy Brett.

“It’s amazing that we were granted our adjournment,” Brett said. “With tent city in Nanaimo winning its directive, it gives me hope that we won’t be fighting an enforcement order in 72 hours, I think it’s a win for both camps.”

Camp residents met at the downtown courthouse on Monday morning prior to the hearing “to defend their homes and lives asking for an adjournment so that their lawyer can represent them, and for necessary supplies to improve health and fire safety at the camp,” said Brett and camp advocate Ashley Mollison.

“We’ve supplied Saanich and the province with a list of supplies to meet that fire order,” Mollison said.

Among the requirements for the fire order are non-flammable tarps and the removal of wooden palettes which many of the tents are propped up on to keep from out of moisture and rain.

“We can’t meet the fire order without them providing necessary supplies to do that,” Mollison said. “The affordability of the items [is a barrier] and removing the wood palettes is not ideal. They would have to be replaced with plastic palettes.”

This is just the beginning, Brett said.

“Hopefully there will be a move towards realizing homeless people are safer in camps even if they’re not 100 per cent fire safe, because being homeless is not safe, but it’s a safer option to be together rather than being spread out.”

The Camp Namegans tent city has existed for almost four months and is home to more than 100 occupants.

Evicting residents from a tent city is akin to a “death sentence” for some, Brett said