Christine Brett is a part-time resident of tent city and has been advocating for the campers since December.

Christine Brett is a part-time resident of tent city and has been advocating for the campers since December.

Judge orders tent city to shut down

After a lengthy battle, the B.C. Supreme Court has ordered tent city to shut down by early next month.

  • Jul. 6, 2016 1:00 p.m.

Chief Justice Hinkson, Re British Columbia v. Adamson, 07-05



By Pamela Roth and Kendra Wong

After a lengthy battle, the B.C. Supreme Court has ordered the tent city on the lawns of the Victoria courthouse to shut down by early next month.

In a judgement released Tuesday, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ordered the camp to be shut down by Aug. 8, after deeming it unsafe for both residents of the camp and nearby neighbours and businesses.

“I find that the violence and criminal activities at the encampment have markedly increased since March of this year to the point where the encampment is unsafe, and for that reason conclude that the encampment poses a risk to both its residents and the residents and businesses in the area,” he said in the judgement.

Earlier this year, Hinkson denied the province’s application for an injunction to remove the campers on the grounds there wasn’t anywhere else for them to go.

However, since then the province has committed to opening a number of facilities to help house the residents of the tent city on Burdett Avenue. Last month, it purchased the former Super 8 Hotel on Douglas Street for $6.5 million to house 51 people. The province also purchased the former Central Care Home building on Johnson Street at a cost of $11.2 million. The building will provide more than 140 additional housing units and tenants will begin moving into the building next month.

People who wish to transition into new housing must provide photo identification or agree to be photographed and identify which tents, shelters, objects on the encampment belong to them, according to the judgement.

Residents had mixed emotions about the news as it spread throughout the camp late Tuesday afternoon.

Originally from Ontario, Kevin Lear has been homeless since February and has lived at tent city for the last four months. It’s become a place he considers home and doesn’t want to leave until he finds affordable, not supportive housing.

“That judge can kiss my ass,” said Lear, who suspects there will likely be a protest when people have to move from the site. “I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere. It’s a great community. Everybody is nice. We have each other’s backs.”

Christine Brett doesn’t permanently live at tent city, but has spent much time there, advocating for the rights of the campers since December. Brett was surprised by the judge’s decision but said it’s amazing for the 140 people who will be able to move into housing. She wonders what will happen to the rest of the homeless living on city streets.

“It doesn’t take away from that fact that there’s still 1,400 homeless that were counted,” she said, adding she also won’t be leaving despite the ruling. “There have been people identified who would like a sober house, not a low barrier place. Those options haven’t been made available. There’s just not a solution that is for everyone.”

Residents living in the vicinity of tent city are happy the situation is coming to a close.

Stephen Hammond, who lives in the neighourhood and is the organizer of Mad as Hell, a group that opposes tent city, is pleased with the judge’s decision, but noted the province’s “knee jerk” reaction could have consequences down the road.

“We’re excited it’s going to be gone. We’re excited people who are the most vulerable are going to get housing,” Hammond said, adding he expects people will dwindle away over the next few weeks.

“But we’re not excited about how it happened and we’re not excited about the fact that they’re (homeless people) ending up the way they’re ending up which is lumped altogether. Are these the best places to house people? Is it a good idea to house 140 people who are completely vulernable like this in one place?”

Read the full judgement here:

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This property, at 1980 Fairfield Place, is adjoined to Gonzales Hill Park and is the centre of community opposition and a B.C. Supreme Court case as owners are looking to build a single-family home on the lot. Jake Romphf/News Staff
Home construction near Victoria’s Gonzales Hill Park spurs legal battle

Gonzales Hill Preservation Society worried about impacts to the park’s wildlife, rare fauna, views

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

Traffic heading south on Highway 17 and looking to turn left onto Beacon Avenue wait for the light to turn Tuesday morning. A report finds the intersection is experiencing “failing levels of service” for certain movements during the morning peak hours as well as the afternoon peak hours. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Major Sidney intersection already deficient predicted to get worse

New report also finds area’s pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in need of improvement

Best of the City 2019 (Sergej Krivenko photo)
Voting opens for Victoria’s annual Best of the City

Annual awards mark 27th year in Greater Victoria

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Legendary broadcaster Bernie Pascall is among in the Class of 2021 to be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (PQB News file photo)
Island broadcasting legend Bernie Pascall named to CFL Hall of Fame

Pascall named by Football Reporters of Canada as inductee in the 2021 class in the media category

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Most Read