British Columbia

Vancouver's new tent city to stay; judge dismisses injunction application

A tent city on Vancouver's Main Street will be staying up for at least a little while longer.

The 'Ten Year Tent City' sits at the same spot on Main Street as another camp a decade ago

Vancouver homeless people and advocates erected a tent city at 950 Main Street on April 28, 2017. (Errol Richardson/CBC)

A tent city on Vancouver's Main Street will be staying up for at least a little while longer. 

Justice Neena Sharma dismissed the City of Vancouver's application for an injunction at the 950 Main Street encampment. 

"We're obviously really happy about it," said Maria Wallstam, an organizer with the group, Alliance against Displacement.

"I was expecting them to grant the injunction. We didn't have legal counsel either." 

Based on the evidence provided, Justice Sharma said the safety and stability of the occupants outweighs the potential harm to the city.

The city had argued that the tent city needed to go, so it could get started on a social housing complex on the vacant lot — a proposed development that would include 26 units of social housing, serving Aboriginal adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

"Only a third would be for people who are homeless or in most need of housing. That's not a lot," said Wallstam.

Justice Sharma heard from occupants at the tent city who said they have nowhere else to go and their lives would be in danger if the camp were dismantled. 

"The tent city is providing something they haven't been able to get anywhere else," she wrote, adding that the people may suffer greatly if the the injunction is granted. 

A walk through of Main Street's tent city


4 years ago
A judge recently dismissed an injunction to tear down the month-old site. 0:46

City reviewing options

In a statement, the city said they were "concerned" by the decision and were reviewing their options.

"In order for the project to be completed on time, there are immediate site access requirements for environmental remediation testing and planning. Soil testing and drilling have already been postponed due to the encampment and any further delay to this work threatens the viability of the housing project," it wrote.

"We still hope that we can reach a peaceful resolution to this encampment."

Activists expect the city to file another injunction in the coming weeks. But for now, they have no plans to leave the site.

"The city could provide alternatives in terms of shelter but also support tent cities, because these are spaces for survival," said Wallstan.

"People are going to stay there as long as they can, until they're given some alternatives by the government." 

With files from Bal Brach