Eviction of Victoria Street encampment now before the courts
Court asks region to personally serve application to at least 12 people occupying the property
The Region of Waterloo has filed an application with the Superior Court of Justice to start evicting people living at an encampment at Victoria St. and Weber St. in Kitchener.
The region alleges in a two page court document that people living on the site are in breach of the municipal act. The region had previously given occupants a June 30 deadline to leave the property.
An eviction notice was placed on the site in early June when the camp grew to more than 50 people, which raised concerns around safety, the region said at the time.
The court document, issued by Justice M.J. Valente, asks the region to post at least six copies of its notice at visible locations and personally serve its application to at least 12 people who appear to be occupying the property.
According to an affidavit in the region's application record, the first tents started to appear at 100 Victoria St. in December.
Between December 2021 and June 6, approximately 70 tents or temporary shelters were set up on the site.
In May, the region created a risk assessment tool to address the growing size of the encampment and assess whether it was safe for it to continue.
After two risk assessments were completed, the region determined its population continued to grow and there were an increasing number of incidents that involved police, reads the affidavit.
That's when the region decided to evict the encampment.
The region also came to an agreement with The Working Centre in May to provide washroom facilities for people at St. John's Kitchener across the street.
The region opened a new emergency overnight shelter in June, where the former Edith MacIntosh Child Care Centre was located. The shelter is open to people of all gender identities, couples and pets.
After the June 30 deadline to vacate the property, approximately 50 tents remain on site, the affidavit read.
The encampment at Victoria and Weber streets is on regionally owned property that will be the future home of a new transit hub that is expected to be complete by late 2024.
The region is expected to be back before the court on July 20th.
Legal information session at encampment
Lawyers with Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, an independent legal aid clinic, will hold an information session Thursday for people living at the encampment.
The clinic offers legal assistance to low-income people in the region.
"We're trying to put on a session to everyone at the encampment just so that they're aware of what's happening and they're aware of how they can participate, whether it's through retaining the legal clinic or they also have the right to self represent," Shannon Down, executive director and a lawyer, told CBC News.
"If there are people there who want to represent themselves, we're going to try and provide them with some information and a bit of a roadmap on what that might look like."
Down said the people her group has spoken to at the encampment say they're asking the court to stop the region from enforcing the bylaw and evicting them until they can find housing or a stable place to live.
The clinic will also offer representation to people interested in retaining legal counsel.
The information session is set to take place at Victoria Street and Weber Street at 10 a.m.