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Housing advocates say they won't leave Burnaby apartment building, despite court ordering them out

Last Updated Jul 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm PDT

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) -A group of housing advocates are being forced to vacate a Burnaby apartment complex they’ve occupied since Saturday.

In an injunction hearing, a judge ruled the Advocates Against Displacement must get out of the building, but the group is refusing to leave.

Villa de Michelle on Imperial Street is one of 19 buildings in the area owned by Amacon and slated for condo re-development. The occupied building is slated for demolition.

The group estimates the move will displace a total of 500 people, and that’s why Dave Diewert says they aren’t leaving.

“We are going to resist. I think the only way to demonstrate the violence and injustice of the law is to break the law,” he says.

Martin Fernandez was evicted from the building along with his 72-year-old mother and two children aged five and six. The four have a temporary home 10 blocks away, but the stress of the displacement has put Fernandez’s mother in the hospital twice in the last month.

“The effect has been huge, morally and psychological,” he says. “I want to tell (Mayor Derek) Corrigan to have a conscience, to put his heart in his hand and think about the effect that he is doing to the community. Mr. Corridan has a place to live, but we don’t have a place to live permanently.”

Local homeless man Carl has lived on the streets for 25 years and recently took up residence in the empty complex. He says having affordable housing would get him out of the dangers of the street.

“Here feels safe. I can go to sleep,. But out there it’s hard to go to sleep,” he says. “I love to cook and entertain and I don’t have a place to cook and entertain.”

The injunction came into effect immediately, but it’s still unknown if or when police will enforce it.

A barbeque is scheduled for outside the apartment at 5 p.m. this evening.