Homeless camps now legal in city parks

Bit of interesting news out of Victoria this morning, the BC Supreme Court has ruled that the cities homeless can legally camp in Victoria parks.

“Yesterday it was illegal to set up my tent. Today it isn’t,” said David Johnston, one of the homeless activists who argued they have a right to sleep outdoors on public property.

Lawyer Catherine Boies Parker, who acted on behalf of the homeless campers in their court challenge of the city’s anti-camping bylaw, confirmed the 108-page judgment upheld their argument that a City of Victoria bylaw that prohibits using “temporary abodes” like tents and large tarpaulins for shelter in parks and public spaces violates the rights of the homeless.

She said the judgment noted that in the absence of sufficient safe and secure beds for the homeless, it was unconstitutional for the city to prevent them from erecting some form of shelter to protect themselves from the elements.

The decision came three years after a group was arrested in October 2005 for setting up a “tent city” in a Victoria park. The eviction sparked the court challenge.

Anyone remember the tent cities in Vancouver parks from just a few years ago? It will be interesting to see how this decision works out for us in the coming months.  The Mayor of Victoria, Alan Lowe predicts the impact of the decision will be felt throughout Canada.  I predict that the impact will be felt to a greater degree in places with a warmer winter climate, ie Victoria and Vancouver.

The judgment does not bode well for city parks, Lowe warned. “Our city parks are not equipped to support camping of any kind.  “We’ve seen first hand the ill effects of tent cities. In 2005 . . . we saw a tent city that had become a hub of illegal activity, health concerns and vandalism,” he said.

“These are not acceptable conditions for our parks and green spaces, but even more importantly these conditions are not acceptable for the homeless.”  Lowe said there were no winners with the judgment. “This is still no way to accommodate our homeless and will be detrimental to the families and children that enjoy our park system.”

At the conference, Acting Police Chief Bill Naughton said police will respond “situationally” to any homeless encampments.  “We’ll see what confronts us and act accordingly,” he said.

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David Arthur Johnsto
11 years ago

Press Release For 'Right to Sleep' Charter Ruling (Victoria, BC, Canada) – Good day and patience be with us all. It is phenomenal, what is happening here in Victoria and soon the rest of Canada and the Commonwealth. Essentially, non-property holders have been given the right to exist and property holders are freaking. A BC Supreme Court ruling on the Constitutionality of municipal Bylaws that prohibit sleeping (in a temporary abodes in crappy weather) in public spaces has just come down. The crux of it is, quoting the presiding judge, the Honourable Madam Justice Ross, "In these circumstances I have concluded that the course that is most appropriate is to grant a declaration that the Bylaws are of no force and effect insofar as they apply to prevent homeless people from erecting temporary shelter." Leaving the municipality the responsibility of… Read more »

scullboy
11 years ago

Helen honey,

Whatever you're on, either boost or cut the dose. Trust me… the sun comes up, the sun goes down…. nothing else is certain.

I find if I pay too much attention to the condo market, it just makes me crazy. Vancouver isn't perfect but it has its charms, even when it's raining. Try and find 'em, otherwise you'll just end up curled up under the bed.

Just remember: Any day without a comment from krrish/thumsup/satv is a good day indeed.

spark
spark
11 years ago

CAMPING IN YOUR OWN CITY!

this truly makes bc the best place on earth!!!!!!1

helen
helen
11 years ago

way to go canada !!! you messed this up real good.

i hope kaos ensues!!!! isnt that just like our leaders in high places to pull this off!!! im sick of all this crap!!!

but what the heck this is nothing but dictatorship , so i think ill go camping myself!!

what do you think? Have fun trying to stop me!!!

finally the homeless get a break!!!

i get erked with all the stupid rules in todays society

signed , Sick and fedup with this life!!!

I hope you all listen well all this is, is bull crap.!!!!!

NO -LYMPICS
NO -LYMPICS
11 years ago

Jesse:

Thanks for the info re: Charter

Charter cases are always interesting if they actually get pushed to that point.

However, we have the 2010 Olympics coming, and it appears that standard policy is that host cities engage in massive "clean ups " for the short term. This ruling would apply throughout Canada… but Gordo must be concerned even more , given this ruling actually allows the homeless choice. The homeless can really exploit this ruling…setting up tent cities in strategic locales.

Somehow, I sense a fix in the works…and lawyers are scurrying as we speak.

Warren
Warren
11 years ago

Finally some sense from islander. This ruling is a mess. Homelessness is a legitimate problem, and finally the government is spending some money on assisted housing, which is the right thing to do, but this ruling is shortsighted to the extreme. Maybe I'll set up a homeless camp across the street from this judge's house and see how that goes.

Don't forget that we are also the haven for all of Canada's homeless thanks to our climate. If we are bitching at the government, we should be calling on Harper and friends.

islander
islander
11 years ago

Once again proving that judges have their heads planted up their @zzes.

Victoria is already a mess. Making it legal for derelicts to set up home in parks is the final nail in the coffin of a once admirable city.

T2
T2
11 years ago

Infinity condo? Why are we talking about housing here? are you all suggesting they sacrifice they're units for homeless housing? or perhaps we should confiscate theose homes and the homes of the owners and anyone else fiscally responsible and donate the funds from those homes for low cost housing… I would like that… so the government should confiscate the untouched land or whatever skeletons of condos exist there then spend cents on the dollar to outfit the spaces with no luxury features and low cost housing. This credit crunch is a figment of some moneygrubby lenders and some stupid polition… hmm, so a few years ago they all started giving out low interest loans… now they could make more money if they hadn't loaned it out at such low rates so they want to hike the interest rates and terms… Read more »

T2
T2
11 years ago

So, what about anyone just camping out on beaches? or am I still homeless if I camp out in my RV? (what if I park down the street and walk 3 steps before I start camping?). RV probably not, but anyone not paying any camping fees isn't a problem… nor would be camping on beaches or any public land? parliment grounds?! I won't mind, but I think anybody doing drugs or drunk while camping should be given housing in jail or detox for a few months. If not for one non-so-illegal activity, I hope the others are so easily forgiven because of the circumstances. Actually, I think we should be deporting people back to the eastern provinces if that is where they are from or they should be compensating us because we have the nicer climate out here. Toronto needs… Read more »

Brad
Brad
11 years ago

Perhaps they should spend the millions on mental health and treatment instead of the olympics…ahh..wishful thinking…

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Could the tent cities become the next Hoovervilles?
http://z.about.com/d/seattle/1/0/4/4/-/-/hoovervi

patriotz
patriotz
11 years ago

It’ll be interesting to see if, down the road, we end up with tent cities made up of ex-homeowners, like they have in California now.

This is a falsehood drummed up by the media.The tent cities in California are made up of traditional homeless (mental problems, drugs, etc). There may well be a few "ex-homeowners" among them since it used to be possible for absolutely anyone to "buy" a house.

The "ex-homeowners" in California (I use quotes because they never "owned" their houses in the first place) are just moving to rental housing, which is in abundant supply and cheaper than their former mortgage payments.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

So typical of Canada, dripping with phoney "compassion" that is just a cover for impotence and incompetence.

bearette
bearette
11 years ago

From 1130:

The worldwide credit freeze-up has hit home with a big impact in Surrey. 'The Infinity at Central City', the largest residential complex in the history of Surrey, is now under court protection from bankruptcy.

With just one of the 35-storey towers completed and occupied, Infinity's South Korean developers have been granted protection from their creditors. The Infinity is supposed to have five high-rise towers and 1400 units. Robert Millar, lawyer for Jung Developments and Hee Yong Yang says "Yang has been adversely impacted by these changes and world wide tightening in the credit and financial markets." He says the project has had no cost overruns.

Two other towers are under construction and 560 pre-sale buyers have made deposits.

Ruh-Roh.

It's like dominoes, folks. Big, glassed-in dominoes.

T-1000
T-1000
11 years ago

Game over for Infinity (Surrey) today. Many more to follow.

It's on News1130.com

jesse
jesse
11 years ago

"So unless he wants to institute a homeless kill program we need a real solution to the problem."

The Gordon Campbell led death squad solution probably wouldn't stand up under the Charter but any court ruling would be post hoc so maybe they would try it.

jesse
jesse
11 years ago

"I can’t see this judgement lasting too long without being challenged or else specific leglislation passed to address it." This was a Charter ruling so legislation will do nothing. From the ruling: There are not enough shelter spaces available to accommodate all of the City’s homeless; some people will be sleeping outside. Those people need to be able to create some shelter. If there were sufficient spaces in shelters for the City’s homeless, and the homeless chose not to utilize them, the case would be different and more difficult. The judge also was careful to rule that the bylaw made it impossible for the homeless to stay safe but did not decide on a longer term remedy, one that could involve specific provisions for shelter zones and the requirement they not be permanent, as examples. I expect the bylaw will… Read more »

Live Large
Live Large
11 years ago

Well, I know what I'm doing this weekend. I'm going to go camping in a Victoria Park. Instead of paying fees to a campground, I can just walk down the street and get an oceanside camp site.

bearette
bearette
11 years ago

Infinity condo development in Surrey now toast. That sucking sound you hear? Another one biting the dust.

bearette
bearette
11 years ago

Infinity condo development now toast.

somebody
somebody
11 years ago

I have an off topic question/comment

I will be finishing university (finally) after many years and will be returning to Vancouver to a good professional job (lawyer) – I took a look on mls at condos in the downtown area and notice that I wouldn't even come close to being able to afford/mortgage one. So my question is – who's buying these for such a price? Should I anticipate renting for the rest of my life?

Aleks
Aleks
11 years ago

"Key statement. If it is impossible for the homeless to be housed, they must have a viable legal alternative, so says the judge. Watch out, Vancouver; you’re next." Yes. The root cause of the "homeless crisis" was Gordon Campbell shutting down mental institutions and kicking crazy people out on the street. The court is effectively saying that this is the end of the line, these people have nowhere else to go so you can't criminalize them being where they are. The really sad and angering part is that studies have shown that it costs taxpayers more to have such people homeless rather than provide them with housing and care. Homeless people are a burden on emergency services, which cost far more than institutional care. I'm sure Gordo wishes they'd all just go away, but they won't. So unless he wants… Read more »

Vansanity
Vansanity
11 years ago

Nice find dingus. Not sure why they discuss the national average. There isn't a "national housing market". I suppose they do so in order to spin the numbers however which way they want to present them.

2009 is shaping up to be one hell of an interesting year. The wife and I had decided to wait until the fall or winter of '09 before we would even consider buying a home(bearing any unforeseen life changing events). The way things are going in '08, I like our chances.

NO -LYMPICS
NO -LYMPICS
11 years ago

Well, like any judgemment, it can have a narrow focus. When other issues arise and conflict, the judgement could get trumped. ie if this becomes a health issue… other rules and Acts may overide and apply

At face value…the Court is implying that society has an obligation to house the homeless, or else all public property is fair game as next option . So….Then let's pitch tents inside warm dry Libraries ?, Schools? , Lt. Governor General living room???

I can't see this judgement lasting too long without being challenged or else specific leglislation passed to address it.(especially with the 2010 Olympics upcoming), though I do have a LOT of sympathy for all these homeless people and a lot of respect for the Lawyer who likley did this case Pro Bono.

dingus
dingus
11 years ago

Falling house sales, prices in B.C. drag down national average

Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun

Published: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

VANCOUVER – Falling sales and declining prices in British Columbia's high-priced Vancouver, Kelown and Fraser Valley markets weighed on the national average home price, which declined 6.2 per cent in September compared with the same month a year ago, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Wednesday.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.htm