City officials filed an application for a court injunction Oct. 7

City officials filed an application for a court injunction Oct. 7

Parking lot tent city given a few more days in Chilliwack

Proceedings were adjourned until Wednesday to allow the tent city camp to get legal representation

The tent city in downtown Chilliwack got a reprieve.

The word from the Chilliwack law courts Friday was that proceedings were adjourned until next Wednesday to allow the members of the encampment to get legal representation after they requested it.

In recent weeks, City of Chilliwack bylaw enforcement officers have been trying to get the campers to comply with the city’s amended bylaw and traffic bylaw and take down their structures and move on — to no avail.

City officials filed an application for a court injunction Oct. 7, to  dismantle the growing camp in Empress Lane.

Bylaw staff has had to contend with a growing number who’ve set up tents, tarps and other structures in the parking lot.

Neighbours say it’s noisy and messy, and the campers say they’ve been attacked by vigilante community members who want them gone, and have nowhere safe to go.

So the court route was chosen.

“As the individuals refused to remove their property, the City of Chilliwack determined that pursuing legal action through a court injunction was the best approach to take to clear the property.”

The parking lot is owned by the City of Chilliwack, bounded by Young Road, Princess Avenue, Yale Road and Nowell Street.

After a B.C. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that municipalities cannot impose blanket prohibitions on homeless setting up tents or structures in public parks, city council updated the Parks Bylaw in an attempt to strategically restrict and control that usage.

“Through the updated bylaw, the City strives to accommodate both the Charter rights of homeless people and the rights of residents to use public parks for recreation purposes. The City is seeking the present court injunction in part to implement and enforce the guidelines outlined in the bylaw.”

Notice was issued to the campers that they were contravening city bylaws but they refused to budge.

It’s not the only permanent homeless camp in Chilliwack — there are several. But it’s the only one located on city property. The other camps are on private land, First Nations land or provincial Crown Land, over which the city has no jurisdiction.

The court injunction to dismantle the camp and evict the campers is taking the next enforcement step to get compliance, based on advice from legal counsel and staff.

Tthe intent is to seek a permanent injunction to ensure that the current no homeless encampment can be set up at this location in the future. If the injunction is granted, RCMP officers can enforce it.