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City of Prince George seeks court order to remove encampments

A hearing will take place at the Prince George Courthouse on Sept. 13

The city of Prince George has filed an application to the B.C. Supreme Court to remove encampments on George Street and Lower Patricia.

The City says it is working with BC Housing to prepare the occupants to leave the encampments and move to accommodations that best meet their needs.

A hearing is expected to be scheduled by the Court during the week of Sept. 13.

As part of this process, bylaw services staff are serving documents to the occupants of both encampments notifying them of the upcoming hearing.

These documents do not require the occupants to leave the encampments immediately.

The application which was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Aug. 25 is seeking a declaration that the respondents have committed trespass by entering and remaining on Lower Patricia and George Street and “setting up a permanent tent encampment, after the owner or occupier of the Property advised that such activity is not permitted, and emergency shelter is available.”

It is also seeking a mandatory and permanent injunction order to:

  • Remove all structures, tents, shelters, shopping carts, stoves rubbish, objects, personal chattels, and other things on the properties;
  • Vacate the properties within a period specified by the court;
  • Not re-enter the properties or any other location within the city not authorized by the petitioner;
  • Forfeit all prohibited weapons and drugs to the police;
  • Not erect or bring structures, tents, shelters shopping carts, stoves, rubbish, objects, personal chattels, and other things on city owned property, parks or public spaces except as authorized by the petitioner.

The application seeks an order authorizing city employees to:

  • Dismantle and remove from the properties all structures, tents, shelters, shopping carts, stoves, rubbish objects, personal chattels, and other things remaining on the properties
  • Sell, destroy, or otherwise dispose of, those items removed from the properties, without recourse to the respondents.

The application also seeks “an order authorizing any police officer within the Prince George detachment of the RCMP to arrest and remove from the properties any person who fails to comply with this order in accordance with the standard enforcement practices by the RCMP and pursuant to section 127 of the Criminal Code of Canada.”

In early June, council directed city administration to pursue an injunction to allow for the orderly and safe removal of the unlawful encampments.

Shortly after, the occupants of the George Street encampment were served Notice of Trespass on June 11, and the occupants of the Patricia Boulevard encampment were served Notice of Trespass on June 14.

Since that time, the city says it has worked with BC Housing, supportive housing providers, and other community partners to assist occupants to secure housing.

“The City of Prince George, along with governments at every level, is continuing to manage increasingly complex social issues associated with two concurrent health emergencies: the opioid overdose crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Council is continuing to work with its partners, including the Province of BC, to help ensure necessary services and supports are in place,” states the City of Prince George in a news release.

The city also notes these actions including the injunction are unrelated to the proposed Safe Streets Bylaw, which council will be considering for final reading and adoption at the Aug. 30 council meeting.

This bylaw would allow the city to ticket people for panhandling, open drug use, camping in public areas.

Three groups including the community group Together We Stand, the BC Assembly of First Nations, and the Miller Addition Connaught Concerned Citizens Committee will all be making delegations to council in regards to this bylaw.

The full agenda for Monday night’s council meeting is also available online.