With the Occupy Vancouver encampment threatening to define the Nov. 19 civic election, city staff are expected to seek an injunction against protesters in court Tuesday.

The injunction hearing will begin Tuesday afternoon at B.C. Supreme Court.

City Manager Penny Ballem preceded the move by issuing a notice Monday morning asking protesters to remove all tents and structures immediately.

"Over the last four days, there has been as escalation of safety concerns in the area of fire safety, injection drug use, the presence of pests and other hazards," the notice reads.

"We ask you to take your tents, belongings and any other items or structures off the site immediately so that safety concerns can be addressed."

The notice, which came two days after a young woman from Victoria, B.C. was found dead and four days after a man suffered a non-fatal overdose at the site, has been largely ignored by Occupy participants.

The city says it will continue to support Occupy protests at the site by retaining the stage on the art gallery steps and providing electric power for the sound system.

With the election less than two weeks away, Vision Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Non-Partisan Association rival Suzanne Anton exchanged verbal blows at a debate on the protest Monday morning on CKNW radio.

"It's gone on for three weeks now," Anton said. "Gregor at first said, ‘You can stay as long as you like.' That's not true. That's a very bad signal to send out from city hall."

Robertson responded that Anton has been playing politics since the protest began, agitating an already sensitive situation between Occupy protesters and city staff.

"I think it's upset people on the site and it's upsetting to all of us when this has become a political football."

Robertson has moved to put an end to the camp, but it's unclear how hard his administration will push to vacate the art gallery property. Anton has been calling for the removal of the tent city for weeks, but has not fully explained how she would accomplish that goal.

Speaking after the debate, Robertson would not specify what the city intends to do if protesters refuse to budge, but reiterated his past statements that maintaining the peace is paramount.

"Cities across the world are grappling with how best to do this because in a number of cases violence has erupted," Robertson said. "We don't want to see that repeated here in Vancouver. We want to see this end peacefully."

But the site has become a "risk to life safety" and must be shut down, Robertson added. The city also believes the number of homeless people suffering from mental illness at the site is growing.

Protester Nathan Sandland acknowledged Sunday night that some at the site were using hard drugs, contrary to organizers' no drugs or alcohol policy, but said it is a reality of living in Vancouver.

He added that protesters would be holding their ground, even if the city seeks an injunction.

"The protest and the occupation of this building … will still last, and there will be structures and there will be facilities," Sandland said.

Firefighters toured the site on Friday and asked that all fuel sources and potentially hazardous heat sources be removed. Sandland said protesters have since been using sleeping bags, heavy winter clothing and "if you're lucky, a little bit of body heat" from a fellow camper to stay warm.

The woman who died Saturday afternoon has been identified as 23-year-old Ashlie Gough. An autopsy has been performed on her body, but investigators are waiting for toxicology results to confirm the cause of death. Days earlier, a man suffered a non-fatal overdose at the camp. He was resuscitated by an on-site volunteer medic.

With files from The Canadian Press