Saanich files lawsuit against Regina Park encampment
July 24, 2018
For immediate release
Saanich, BC – On Monday, July 23, the District of Saanich commenced legal proceedings in British Columbia Supreme Court, by which an injunction will be sought to require Regina Park be immediately vacated to allow for fire risks and other hazards in the park to be addressed and, thereafter, to require that uses of the park be limited to uses permitted by Saanich’s bylaws.
Continuous occupation of Regina Park is unacceptable for several reasons:
The continued occupation is contrary to Saanich’s bylaws;
Saanich has been unable to successful manage life safety in the park due to ongoing fire hazards, and the encampment remains unsafe for the occupants, first responders and others who may visit the park;
Saanich has been unable to achieve compliance with fire orders issued pursuant to the Fire Services Act;
The encampment has and continues to negatively impact on the local residential and business community;
The occupation of the park is not an intended use of the property, and the occupation has prevented other members of the public from using the park; and
The encampment has placed an enormous burden on Saanich’s financial resources, including required support from the Police, Fire and Parks Departments.
The occupants of the park have been asked twice to terminate their occupation of the park. A “notice to vacate” was issued to the encampment June 8, followed by a “notice to cease occupation” July 12. Saanich issued these notices with the goal of achieving voluntary compliance. In reply, the occupants have indicated they intend to maintain the encampment.
The most recent notice on July 12 was issued following Saanich’s amendments to its Parks Management and Control Bylaw. The amendments align the bylaw with the BC Supreme Court rulings on temporary overnight sheltering in parks. Of 172 parks owned by Saanich, a total of 102 may be used for temporary overnight sheltering purposes from the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m., including Regina Park. Temporary overnight sheltering is restricted in several areas, including, but not limited to environmentally sensitive areas, playgrounds, sports fields, beaches and water parks. Saanich has provided a hygiene station with washrooms and showers and a property storage facility, located at the Municipal Hall, as a support service to those who may need to seek temporary shelter.
Saanich continues to assist the provincial government by exploring options for social housing, but is not in a position to fund or develop new social housing on its own. Responsibility for social housing, mental health care and treatment and support for addictions rests with the province, and Saanich will continue to support the province in its efforts to invest in solutions to these issues.
A court hearing for the injunction Saanich intends to seek is scheduled for the week of August 13.
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.
Visit saanich.ca/encampment for updates and information about the Regina Park encampment.
250-475-5494 ext. 3444