Courthouse Camping

Posted by Johannes Schenk on April 6th, 2016 — Posted in Litigation, Municipal Law

2016 BCSC 584 British Columbia v. Adamson, concerns the occupation of the Victoria Courthouse grounds. Well, for now it’s okay.

The analysis is based on an RJR tri-partite injunction test. The Court found that there was no irreparable harm and that the balance of convenience was in favour of the encampment.

The Court had this to say on harm:

The fact remains that most of the damages alleged by the plaintiffs have already crystallized. Any further costs or damage that would be occasioned by the ongoing presence of the Encampment would, as I will discuss below, simply take place somewhere else in the City or Victoria if the injunction sought were issued.

And on the balance of convenience:

[183] Ultimately, in determining whether or not to grant an interim injunction at this time, I find that the balance of convenience is overwhelmingly in favour of the defendants, who simply have nowhere to move to, if the injunction were to issue, other than shelters that are incapable of meeting the needs of some of them, or will result in their constant disruption and a perpetuation of a relentless series of daily moves to the streets, doorways, and parks of the City of Victoria.

[184] In addition, many of the homeless cannot access those spaces which do exist for variety of reasons. While the new options provided by the Province address some of the identified barriers, they do not make the spaces available to everyone. Individuals who have high needs, or who have had problematic relationships with the staff at the other shelters run by the agencies administering the new options, will not be able to access these spaces even if they do become available. Many of the current residents of the Encampment have had extremely negative experiences in the current shelter system, where large groups of high needs individuals are crowded together with minimal support, and rigid rules regarding attendance make it difficult to secure or maintain a spot.

[185] Further, I am not satisfied on the evidence before me that many of the problems alleged by the plaintiffs are the unique result of the existence of the Encampment, and are not simply part of the reality of homelessness. If I were to issue the injunction at this point, I am concerned that the problems would simply migrate to other areas in the City of Victoria.

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