A celebration took place on the steps of the Prince George Courthouse after a hearing in B.C. Supreme Court seeking a court order to remove tent cities has been adjourned for two weeks.
Residents and supporters of the encampments welcomed the news of the two week delay which will allow time for counsel for tent city residents to submit materials and arguments.
On Aug. 25 the city of Prince George has filed an application to the B.C. Supreme Court seeking a mandatory and permanent injunction remove encampments on George Street and Lower Patricia.
A hearing was scheduled today (Monday, Sept.13).
However, Darlene Kavka counsel for two of the respondents named in the application Crystal Ardnt and an unnamed John Doe, identified as Rory Embry, requested a two-week adjournment.
Both Crystal Ardnt and Rory Embry are residents of the tent city.
“These materials were filed on Aug. 25 and there was a 21-day time period to file responding materials as the staff lawyer at the community legal clinic I have seen these materials for the first time this morning,” said Kavka. “I have received written instructions from two parties to seek adjournment today so that the proper materials can be filed.”
Counsel for the applicant Troy DeSouza also explained the hearing has been fast-tracked as nothing had been filed as of the hearing date and because of a level of urgency to the situation.
The 21-day time period would expire on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
“The draft order does not actually take effect by our request to the court until Sept. 27. So, there is certainly some more time we are factoring in with respect to an orderly timeline for the ultimate dismantling of the tent city,” explained DeSouza.
Kavka argued there was a need for the residents of the tent city to have an opportunity to be heard.
“There is a palpable need for these vulnerable residents of what is referred to as tent cities to have an opportunity to be heard and to have an opportunity to argue as to how quickly they have to be removed and how quickly they have to find housing in a housing unfriendly situation,” said Kavka.
“That requires full exploration by the court because what is presented to the court is one side of a very complex issue and for that reason we are seeking at least a two week adjournment to try and present proper materials and argument.”
B.C. Supreme Court Justice, Marguerite Church said after hearing counsel’s submission she would grant the application for a two-week adjournment.
However, the city’s enforcement date of Sept. 27 outlined in the draft court order would remain unchanged.
“There is a level of urgency to this application and given that the city was prepared to delay enforcement of the injunction, if one was granted today - until that date, I don’t see there’s much prejudice to the city in terms of delaying hearing the injunction application until Sept. 27,” said Church.
“I would suspect however if the injunction application is heard on that date and granted it would be up to the city whether they would be there to enforcement on that date.”
The matter will be before the courts again sometime during the week of Sept. 27.