VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province’s top court has slapped down an attempt by the city of Vancouver to remove the people living in a tent city at 950 Main Street.
Located on a city-owned lot just a few blocks away from Science World, the so-called “Ten Year Tent City” has been home to a few dozen homeless since late April.
The city argues that the camp is preventing development of a 26-unit affordable housing complex planned for that very site.
“Soil testing and drilling have already been postponed due to the encampment and any further delay to this work threatens the viability of the housing project,” a city statement reads, adding that some of the project’s funding sources have “pressing timeframes and would be negatively impacted by delays.”
But the BC Supreme Court found the city failed to prove that “irreparable harm” would occur if the injunction was not granted.
Caitlin Shane with the Pivot Legal Society supported the camp’s residents and says she’s surprised and encouraged by the court’s decision.
“It was really, really encouraging to see the BC Supreme Court directly asking to hear from people who live at the site to hear their stories. The judge was compassionate, and she was willing to listen, and that seems to have made all the difference,” she says.
Shane expects the city of Vancouver to file another injunction against the camp, next time bolstered by stronger evidence.
“In the meantime, people will continue to be homeless, people will continue to rely on tent cities for health and safety, and people on the ground will continue to do their best to support them,” she adds.
Back in October, the top court granted the city an injunction against a similar camp at 58 East Hastings. Shane says many of the people removed from that site are now living at 950 Main Street.
“This is not a long-term solution, it’s more of a matter of harm reduction. This is a situation that people have indicated works best for them now.”
The city says it is “concerned by the implications of the Court’s decision”, and is reviewing its options.