Judge grants injunction to clear out DTES tent city
The City of Vancouver has been granted an injunction to dismantle a tent city in the Downtown Eastside where people have been living since the summer.
On Monday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Loryl Russell approved the city's application to clear out the remaining homeless residents from the makeshift campsite, which was launched at 58 West Hastings St. in July.
Staff argued conditions at the tent city have deteriorated to the point of being hazardous, with garbage, feces and needles being left at the site.
Most of the campers already moved out last month, with many heading into newly opened shelter spaces. Pivot Legal Society, which represented the remaining residents in court, said fewer than 10 people remain.
But some of the campers who left ended up on floor mats in emergency shelters, and "many more" remain homeless in other outdoor locations, according to Pivot.
"A drop in occupancy must not be confused for meaningful change," the group said in a blog post earlier this month.
Pivot criticized the solutions offered up by the government, arguing many homeless people avoid shelters because there isn't a place to store their belongings, which can be looted if left unattended.
Vancouver has also promised to build hundreds of units of social housing at 58 West Hastings, at a cost of roughly $70 million, but the project is expected to take years to complete.
Two years ago, the city filed for, and was granted, a similar injunction against another homeless camp at Oppenheimer Park.
Five people were arrested for allegedly refusing to leave the park and interfering with workers who were dismantling tents, but none faced criminal charges.
A Victoria judge refused the B.C. government an injunction against a tent city in the capital in April, but another application was approved months later on the basis that the conditions had become unsafe.
With files from The Canadian Press