On September 7, 2018 the Honourable Mr. Justice Branch of the BC Supreme Court granted the District of Saanich and the Province of BC interlocutory injunctions to require Regina Park and the adjoining Trans-Canada Highway road allowance be vacated by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2018.
The removal of the encampment will allow the District of Saanich and the Province of BC to address the fire risks and other hazards and to remediate the park. Remediation activities are expected to occur over a two to three week period. Once remediated and reopened, the uses of Regina Park will then be limited to those uses permitted by Saanich’s bylaws.
Since the arrival of the encampment in April 2018, Saanich Parks and Fire Departments, with support from Saanich Police, have worked with the occupants to achieve voluntary compliance with respect to Saanich’s bylaws. A notice to vacate was issued to the encampment June 8, followed by a notice to cease occupation July 12. In reply to each notice, the occupants indicated they intended to maintain the encampment.
Following the encampment’s decision to remain, it became necessary for Saanich to commence legal proceedings to achieve compliance with its bylaws. An application for injunction was filed with BC Supreme Court July 23. The court hearing began August 13 with a request for an adjournment by the encampment, which was granted. The court hearing resumed for a five-day period August 27 with the Honourable Mr. Justice Branch reserving decision until September 7.
Since Friday’s ruling Saanich Police have been communicating expectations for enforcement of the injunction to the occupants of Regina Park and preparing them for decampment. Any persons remaining in Regina Park are currently in violation of the BC Supreme Court Order. As this injunction is a lawful order, the Saanich Police Department is required by law to enforce this order.
The District of Saanich is currently in the process of placing fencing around Regina Park to allow for remediation activities to begin. Saanich Police will continuously remain on site until all occupants of Regina Park have decamped. To ensure the BC Supreme Court Order is being complied with access to the area will be restricted to those authorized by Saanich Police incident command.
We will continue to treat the vulnerable persons vacating the park with dignity and care through the decampment process. It is recognized that many of the occupants will require assistance to vacate the park and we are conducting a phased approach to supporting the occupants in complying with the injunction.
The District of Saanich Parks and Management Control Bylaw allows temporary overnight sheltering in over 100 of Saanich’s parks from the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m., which will include Regina Park, once the remediation work has been completed and the park is safe to re-enter. In addition, a hygiene station, including washrooms and showers, and storage facility located at Saanich Municipal Hall remain open for use from 7 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. These facilities are offered as a support service to those who may need to seek temporary overnight shelter.
Again, the Saanich Police Department is required by law to enforce this BC Supreme Court Order. It is our hope those encamped at Regina Park depart that space peacefully. We want everyone to know we’ll attempt all reasonable measures to achieve voluntary compliance before enforcement action is taken.
SPD File 18-11851 refers
Sgt. Jereme Leslie #228