Judge suspends eviction notices against homeless camp in Vancouver

A judge in BC has suspended two orders to evict people from a homeless camp in downtown Vancouver.

In a ruling on Thursday before the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Judge F. Matthew Kirchner concluded that the Vancouver Park Board was not justified in issuing the eviction orders on July 8 and September 7 of last year.

Both orders forced dozens of homeless people living in the CRAB Park homeless camp, east of the Vancouver Convention Center on Burrard Inlet, to leave.

Camp residents moved to the area last May, the most recent park near the Downtown Eastside to become home to the homeless.

Thursday’s decision means both eviction notices have been quashed and sent back to the Park Board for reconsideration.

Tents on a fenced lot near CRAB Park in Vancouver, pictured in June 2020, before residents were evicted. In May 2021, a new encampment was created in the park. Two residents of the most recent camp filed a petition with the Supreme Court for judicial review of the 2021 eviction orders. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The July 2021 order closed CRAB Park for overnight shelter “to ensure the park remains available to all park users.” The September 2021 order closed off part of the park to all users for repairs and maintenance.

Thursday’s decision comes after two camp residents, Kerry Bamberger and Jason Hebert, petitioned the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the orders.

A Twitter account advocating for the camp residents announced the news of the decision on Thursday afternoon. It urged the Vancouver Park Board to respect the court’s decision.

The No Eviction at CRAB Park group announced on Twitter that it plans to hold a press conference at CRAB Park Friday at 11 a.m. PT.

No adequate notice, opportunity to be heard

In his written decision, Judge Kirchner supported Bamberger and Hebert’s argument that both orders unreasonably assumed that there would be enough covered shelters to accommodate those living in the park when forced out of the park.

Justice Kirchner wrote that Park Board general manager Donnie Rosa had a responsibility to verify whether closing the last major public park in the Downtown Eastside to night shelters would prevent them from accessing services and facilities needed to survive. .

“There is nothing in the file to prove that” [Rosa] turned her mind to this question or whether she reasonably addressed it,” he wrote.

The judge also ruled that the residents of the camp had not been sufficiently informed and had not been given an opportunity to be heard before the eviction orders were executed.

“These individuals have the right to be informed and heard as their rights, privileges or interests are uniquely affected,” Judge Kirchner wrote.

The judge also suspended a court order from the Vancouver Park Board that forced the camp residents to comply with the eviction notice and remove all of their shelters and belongings from the park.

The injunction request has been deferred until the Park Board general manager reconsiders the eviction notices.

This includes considering “the full range of options open to” [the general manager] to manage the camp, including the ability to accommodate a number of individuals with a daytime shelter arrangement,” Kirchner wrote.

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