The leader of the tent city in Regina Park said she is “optimistic and confident” about the eventual outcome of the B.C. Supreme Court hearing into its fate.
Chrissy Brett of Camp Namegans made these comments Friday afternoon after Justice Ward Branch said that he would announce his judgment on Friday, Sept. 7.
Both the District of Saanich and the Province of British Columbia have asked for an injunction to close down the camp, citing various reasons that include fire safety, criminal activity, and road safety among others.
Specifically, Saanich wants disperse the campers now exceeding 100 for two to three weeks during which staff would remove hazardous materials, mow the lawn, and put down eight to 12 inches of wood chips. Once deemed fire safe, Saanich would then allow residents to seek overnight shelter, while prohibiting camping during the day.
But both Brett and Ashley Mollison of the Alliance Against Displacement fear that this proposal represents a ploy to close down the camp. Camp leaders are instead hoping to challenge the constitutionality of Saanich’s prohibition against overnight camping regardless of the verdict that Branch will issue Sept. 7.
According to Brett, lawyers representing various parties have already had preliminary discussions about the eventual timing of such a trial, should it go ahead.
Brett also used the occasion of the hearing’s conclusion to challenge the narrative that the camp had a crime problem.
The public heard Wednesday from Saanich lawyer Jeff Locke among other points that a violent member of a gang by the name of Jason Sheena was staying at the camp.
Brett acknowledged the criminal past of Sheena, but stressed that he has changed and that displacing him would undo his progress. She also challenged the larger narrative that the camp was a major source of criminal activity as Saanich had described it.
In light of everything and the tent city experience outside the Victoria courthouse, Camp Namegans could well become a blue print, she said.
Saanich also acknowledged the conclusion of the hearing, but did not directly comment on future expectations.
“In the interim, Saanich Fire and Parks Departments, with support from Saanich Police, will continue regular site visits to attempt to mitigate fire and life safety risks in the park,” read the release.