Calgary

Occupy Calgary protesters ordered to pack up tents

City of Calgary wins court injunction to remove Occupy Calgary protesters from their downtown camping site.

Protesters have to remove their tents from Olympic Plaza by Friday

A Calgary judge has ordered an end to the Occupy Calgary encampment.

Chief Justice Neil Wittmann approved the city's request Tuesday to order the protesters to tear down their camp at a downtown park.  

Bill Bruce, Calgary's Director of Animal and Bylaw Services, said protesters at Olympic Plaza after 11 p.m. Friday could be arrested. (CBC )

"The Occupy Calgary group are hereby ordered to remove all structures, tents, shelters, objects and things owned, constructed, maintained, placed or occupied by them," wrote Wittmann in his judgment. 

Occupy protesters will have to vacate Olympic Plaza by Friday at 2 p.m. After that, protesters will be violating a court order.

If the protesters fail to comply with the order, bylaw officers are then authorized to remove all structures "to be safely stored and to be returned to their owners upon request and adequate proof."

The judgment further says anyone who interferes with the enforcement of the order may be arrested. The city said anyone at the park after 11 p.m. could be apprehended.

"They will be arrested for contempt of court," said Calgary's head of bylaw Bill Bruce.

Wittmann referenced the Occupy Toronto and Occupy Vancouver camps in his decision, which both received orders that put an end to their encampments.

He said the city injunction was not an application to challenge the constitutional validity of the city's park bylaw, although "it appears that at least some members of the Occupy Calgary group would like to do so."

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the decision is good news.

"Throughout the nearly 60 days of this encampment, city officials have worked hard to balance the competing rights of protest and full access to public space," he said in a statement. "Emotions on both sides of this debate have run high. But, as I have said: this is the essence of democracy and sometimes democracy is messy."

Protesters have vowed not to leave

The protestors had set up camp at Olympic Plaza on Oct. 15.

The city has been criticized for not forcibly removing them, but the police chief has praised the city for not turning this into a confrontation.

Ben Christensen, a litigation advisor who represented the protesters, said he feels they could have used more time to prepare for the case. (CBC)

Wittmann hopes both sides will continue to "act in a measured, conscientious and peaceful manner."

Officials did start removing tents last month and have tried to negotiate deals with the remaining protestors, with no success.

Finally last Friday, the city went to court looking for an injunction to prevent camping on Olympic Plaza.

The city said the bylaw banning camping in public spaces is being violated and other citizens would like to utilize the space. It also says a fire that started in a tent Nov. 16, injuring two people, raised safety issues.

The protesters have said in the past that even with an eviction order, they're not going anywhere.

Ben Christensen, a litigation advisor who represented the protesters, said last Friday that he had wanted an adjournment so he could submit more affidavits and better prepare for the case. He feels the city did not give them enough time to gather evidence.

CBC reporter Sonya Denton said she spoke with the protester's legal representative who said he hasn't received a copy of the judgment and the protesters aren't going anywhere until they see the order.