Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Victoria homeless crackdown disappoints camping case lawyer

One of the lawyers who represented homeless campers in Victoria in a case they won in the B.C. Supreme Court last week said the city's reaction to the ruling is disappointing.

“Our hope here was maybe we could come up with something sensible,” said Irene Faulkner, who worked on the case with her colleague Catherine Boies Parker. “To me it would be more reasonable to say, 'Here's a safe zone where you can do this.'”

Madam Justice Carol Ross found it is unconstitutional to prevent someone from erecting shelter such as a tent to protect themselves, especially when there are so many more people homeless than there are formal shelter beds or housing. She did not approve the founding of tent cities and she left it up to the city to regulate camping.

Acting mayor Dean Fortin said last week the city will appeal the ruling. The city also passed a new bylaw enforcement policy which among other things says campers will be required to remove their tents from public property between seven a.m. and nine p.m..

On Friday afternoon, police asked campers in a highly visible part of Beacon Hill Park to remove their tents. Five who refused were arrested and later released on promises not to return to the park while they wait for their day in court.

“I'm sad and tired,” camper David Arthur Johnston wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “I've existed in freedom today and the world has had its freedom taken away not long after that . . . As long as this 7:00 AM rule is in place there is no success from the Charter Challenge. Just a fucking joke.”

Whether the time limit is constitutional is a question for the courts, Faulkner said. “This is probably the first of many judgments.”

The city should start working with people on the streets to see what they want, she added. “We'd hoped they would do that in a spirit of consultation and what's going to work,” she said. “It's a well-reasoned, limited decision, and I would like to see it have more effect for poor people who are out there in the cold.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus