The question of whether or not more than 100 tents can remain standing in Oppenheimer Park could be answered before the end of Wednesday, October 8.
The issue entered the B.C. Supreme Court on September 29 and, after it was granted a one-week adjournment, returns there on Monday, October 6. Arguments are scheduled to be heard over the course of three consecutive morning sessions.
The City of Vancouver has requested an injunction that would allow it to begin moving campers out of the park. Those homeless people—more than 200 at its peak—have occupied the field at the corner of East Cordova and Dunlevy Avenue since mid-July.
The campers are represented in court by DJ Larkin, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society. She told the Straight that they will ask the court to delay making a decision on the city’s request for an injunction until after it hears arguments related to the constitutionality of evicting people from the park.
Those arguments would relate to section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees security of the person.
“We will say, ‘These are the issues at play, this is why you shouldn’t enforce the bylaw [that forbids camping in public parks] right now, and this needs to go to trial so that we can have a full consideration of it,” Larkin said.
If the judge agrees, the campers would be permitted to stay in Oppenheimer until after arguments are presented in court and a judge subsequently issues a ruling on the matter. That process could take several months.
City hall argues that the camp should be dismantled on account deteriorating health and safety conditions.
A number of affidavits filed in support of the city's application for an injunction describe those concerns. There have been fights and incidents in which some campers threatened others. Those affidavits also describe unsanitary conditions found in some people’s tents.
Camp organizers maintain that their presence in Oppenheimer Park is a demonstration of the need for more affordable housing in Vancouver.
Larkin noted that it is not the campers’ goal to remain in Oppenheimer indefinitely.
“It will allow people to find a meaningful alternative so that they are not displaced to the streets,” she said. “That’s what we’re all talking about, essentially. This isn’t so much about law as it is about people.”