The B.C. Supreme Court has rejected the Vancouver Park Board’s latest injunction request to clear out a portion of CRAB Park and prevent people from sheltering there in the daytime.
Justice Matthew Kirchner ruled on duelling petitions from the park board and CRAB Park campers Kerry Bamberger and Jason Hebert.
Bamberger and Hebert had petitioned the court for a judicial review of two park board orders from last year. The first, from July, banned overnight sheltering in the park. The second, from September, ordered that a portion of the park close to the public for the purposes of rehabilitating it from damage said to be caused by the encampment.
The park board petitioned the court for a statutory injunction to enforce its second order. It also asked for a statutory injunction to prevent people from sheltering in CRAB Park during the day, even if the judicial review was granted.
The park board acknowledged that people are allowed to seek shelter in a city park overnight if there is no indoor shelter space available. But it argued that in this case, the people camping in CRAB Park do have other options.
Bamberger and Hebert argued that the park board had not proven there is suitable shelter available and that the process behind its orders was flawed.
Kirchner ruled in favour of the encampment representatives on all fronts. Both injunction requests from the park board were rejected. Bamberger and Herbert’s judicial review petition was accepted.
“Simply assuming that those sheltering in CRAB Park can find ‘another place to go’ fails to accord the necessary priority to their (charter) rights and ensure minimal impairment of those rights,” he wrote in his decision.
“In my view, it was incumbent on the General Manager (Donnie Rosa) to satisfy herself that closing the last major public park in or near the Downtown Eastside to overnight sheltering would not adversely affect the Petitioners’ ability to access the services and other facilities they need to survive.
“There is nothing in the record to show that she turned her mind to this question or that she reasonably addressed it.”
The residents of CRAB Park scheduled a news conference on Friday at 11 a.m. to comment on the ruling.
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