NEWS BULLETIN file photo

NEWS BULLETIN file photo

B.C. tent city residents have three weeks to clear out: Supreme Court

Fire risk, criminal activity in neighbourhood cited as reasons for judgment

Campers at Nanaimo’s tent city have 21 days to vacate the property they’ve illegally occupied for months.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled against allowing Discontent City to remain on City of Nanaimo land, according to a recently released decision made by Justice Ronald Skolrood.

The ruling comes months after a two-day statutory injunction hearing took place at the Nanaimo courthouse in July, when lawyers for city argued that Discontent City be shut down and dismantled.

In his ruling, Skolrood said ongoing safety issues, a lack of leadership within the Discontent City and significant criminal activity in the neighbouring areas were three “key” factors that led to his decision. He said Discontent City can no longer be safely maintained or occupied and that the “oppositional attitudes” of some within the camp indicate that there is a “deteriorating leadership structure” within Discontent City.

“While it is apparent that efforts were made initially to establish a form of governance structure within the Tent City, the expanding size and changing composition of the Tent City has significantly undermined those efforts,” Skolrood said in his ruling.

When it came to increased crime, Skolrood said evidence from campers indicate that there is no way of regulating or controlling who is coming and going from Discontent City and that there is an existence of crime and violence.

“There is also evidence of criminal elements taking over portions of the Tent City which gives rise to very real concerns about the safety and well-being of residents,” Skolrood said.

Skolrood also noted that those key factors combined with “questionable strength” of arguments from Discontent City lawyer Noah Ross around Charter of Rights and Freedoms issues led to his decision. He said while Ross’s arguments had merit around the “benefits” that occur when a community of homeless people unite, those factors have existed in other tent city cases where courts have granted injunctions.

“I am further satisfied that Nanaimo has met the test for an interlocutory injunction requiring removal of the Tent City,” Skolrood said.

Should the occupants not vacate the property in 21 days, the city has the authority to remove all items including structures, tents, shelters, shopping carts, stoves and garbage from the property. The Nanaimo RCMP will have the ability to arrest anyone who remains on the property as well, according to the ruling.

There were more than 60 adifvatits filed in the case and Skolrood, in his ruling, explained that he simply considered those affidavits for what they were.

“I have simply considered them for what they are — evidence of the different views of community members about the Tent City, which again underscores the complex and multi-faceted nature of the homelessness issue,” Skolrood said.

Skolrood also felt that constitutional issues raised were too complex to deal with during a two-day hearing. He said Nanaimo’s petition should be referred to a trial list and considered the city’s application for a statutory injunction as an application for an interim injunction.

“I find support for proceeding in this fashion in the fact that of the many tent city cases that have come before this court in recent times, I am not aware of any that have proceeded by way of a summary petition directly to the final order stage. Rather, such cases are typically brought by way of an action with the relevant governmental authority applying for an interlocutory injunction,” he said.

Skolrood had previously rejected the city’s attempt to obtain a police enforcement order at Discontent City. The city had sought the enforcement order after the occupants refused to comply with a court-imposed provincial fire safety order that had been issued by Skolrood at the conclusion of the injunction hearing.

A second fire safety order has since been issued against Discontent City.

Discontent City was established in May after a small group of protesters broke into the property and established a small camp as part of an effort to raise awareness about the plight homeless people. Since its establishment, the campsite’s population has ballooned to about 300 occupants. There have been also been overdose deaths, stabbings, an explosion and claims by Nanaimo RCMP of increased criminal activity in the neighbourhood around Port Drive. In August, the Soldiers of Odin Vancouver Island marched to the gates of the site where they were met by a large group of Discontent City supporters and concerned residents.

More to come

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Sources team members (left to right) Carrie Belanger, Abby Gemino, Tatiana Belyaeva, Yasmin de Joya-Pagal cheer during the 2020 Coldest Night of the Year event. This year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sources photo)
White Rock’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser goes virtual

Annual walk raises funds for variety of Sources programs and services

An Amica White Rock resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a Jan. 15, 2021 clinic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey seniors grateful for ‘freedom’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinics at Fraser Health long-term and assisted-living sites were to wrap up Jan. 15

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Scott Ackles

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Most Read