Judge considers future of Victoria courthouse homeless encampment

By The Canadian Press
June 28, 2016 - 5:50pm Updated: June 29, 2016 - 10:16am

VICTORIA — A B.C. Supreme Court judge has reserved his decision on the fate of a homeless camp on the grounds of the Victoria courthouse.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson said Tuesday that he needs time to review submissions after hearing the provincial government’s second application to shut down the camp, where an estimate 100 people have been living in tents since the fall.

Hinkson rejected the government’s original injunction last spring, ruling that there was no proof the government would suffer irreparable harm if an injunction to remove the campers wasn’t granted.

Crown lawyer Warren Milman said an injunction is required because the camp has been declared a fire hazard and safety, sanitary and living conditions have deteriorated since the previous court hearings in March.

The lawyer representing the campers, Catherine Boies Parker, said any court order should not involve a blanket eviction notice because the area has served as a secure place for the city’s many homeless people.

Hinkson said it’s clear that conditions are degenerating because of the growing rat problem at the site.

“You are going to have to persuade me if I can make this kind of order,” said Hinkson, when Boies Parker asked the court to consider a staggered closure of the camp once fire issues were improved.

“It has to be clear,” he said. “This is far from clear.”

Boies Parker told the court it needs to consider that the tent city residents have created a safe, secure and adequate shelter for many of the city’s most vulnerable people.

“We say there’s been no significant deterioration,” she said.

It is not clear when Hinkson will make his ruling on the injunction.

— With files from CFAX

The Canadian Press

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