Injunction hearing for Weber and Victoria encampment resumes next week
Posted Nov 9, 2022 04:05:18 PM.
Residents of the large encampment at Weber and Victoria will have to wait at least another week to find out whether they will be evicted.
The injunction hearing will resume on Wednesday, November 16 to allow more time for arguments.
On Monday, the region's lawyer, James Bennett argued that the encampment is unsafe.
He listed concerns about rats, fire issues, firearms, urine and feces, drugs being sold, and complaints from businesses.
The region is looking for direction from the court on how to enforce a bylaw that prohibits tents and temporary structures on regionally owned land.
Bennett argued that the region has offered alternatives to encampment residents, including a surplus of shelter beds and a future managed encampment site.
He questioned whether people have the right to choose where they live outside after refusing offers of shelter.
The Weber and Victoria site is also slated for use during construction of a regional transit hub.
On Tuesday, Shannon Down from Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, who represents some encampment residents disputed Bennett's arguments.
She said the region did not do enough to mitigate problems at the encampment.
Down argued rat baits were focused near the neighbouring plaza, fire prevention officers were never sent, and washroom access was provided months after it was needed.
She pointed out police never found firearms at the encampment, drugs were not witnessed being sold first-hand, and that complaints from neighbouring businesses had more to do with optics than actual harm to customers.
Down also disputed the availability of shelter beds because they are not accessible to everyone—some are designated for women, youth, don't allow pets, and require transportation to get to.
She said the shelter system needs to be much better before eviction can happen.
Down shared affidavits from residents who experienced benefits of living at the encampment, including more stability.
One woman recounted being assaulted by other women at a shelter and robbed multiple times.
Another woman described feeling safe at the encampment with her boyfriend and other residents, who offer security.
That woman wrote she had previously stayed with a male friend, who forced her not to withhold sex, controlled her phone access, and gave her drugs.
If the court grants an injunction, it is unclear how long residents will have to leave.
Bennett suggested 30 days.
The region's lawyers opposed adding more time to the hearing.
The most recent point-in-time count found around 1,100 people were experiencing homelessness in the region.
Regional Councillor-elect Rob Deutschmann said he plans on bringing a motion to council requiring it to approve any eviction enforcement at the Weber and Victoria encampment, even if it receives court approval.