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Municipalities poise for legal fight with province over homeless camps

Municipalities are worried the province is meddling with their ability to manage homeless encampments.

The Union of BC Municipalities issued a statement Thursday, calling on the province to pull legislation that will prevent communities from using court injunctions to remove or regulate homeless camps. Union president Trish Mandewo has personally asked provincial housing Minister Ravi Kahlon to withdraw Bill 45.

If it passes, communities will need to provide evidence that there is reasonably available shelter space before asking for an injunction to remove a camp.

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“Since the provision of shelter is the responsibility and jurisdiction of the provincial government (and provided through BC Housing), local governments would need to rely on BC Housing to provide this data for a court decision,” says UBCM.

The union says almost no community in BC has enough shelter space, so it will be impossible to get injunctions. It says the unintended consequence will be more camps setting up in public spaces where municipalities will have no way to remove them.

“Local governments will have one less tool to manage encampments, and the associated public safety, sanitation, and health concerns in the interim,” sys UBCM.

On Tuesday November 28 UBCM will host a webinar session for local government elected officials and staff to discuss the issue, including more details from UBCM’s legal counsel.

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