City of Prince George apologizes for ‘trauma’ caused by destroying part of homeless camp

The Metropolis of Prince George has issued an apology for destroying a portion of a court-protected homeless camp, which a decide stated precipitated “severe hurt” to those that lived t..

It has additionally withdrawn an attraction of a courtroom case which prevented town from destroying a homeless encampment arrange on quite a bit alongside Patricia Boulevard and says it’s “revaluating its method and response to homelessness and homeless encampments.”

The choice follows a brand new report from the B.C. Meeting of First Nations criticizing town’s method to homelessness within the metropolis, calling it “counterproductive, merciless and in.ntly racist.”

It additionally follows a provincial report which discovered the Prince George area has the best fee of homelessness within the province.

Failed authorized motion

The town’s authorized motion towards homeless encampment dates again to June 2021, when council directed employees to pursue a civil injunction and problem notices of trespass to individuals residing on two metropolis tons.

In October of that 12 months, Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson dominated that whereas town might shut down one of many homeless encampments, it ought to permit the one on Patricia Boulevard to stay, as he didn’t see sufficient proof of t. being ample accessible housing in Prince George to justify the camp’s closure.

However in November 2021, town demolished a number of constructions in that encampment, citing issues over neighborhood security and hearth hazards. 

The town additionally filed an attraction of Hinkson’s ruling and re-applied to have the camp shut down — and in February it was as soon as once more denied, this time by Justice Simon R. Coval.

Not solely did Coval discover t. was nonetheless not sufficient housing to justify eradicating the camp, he additionally dominated town had “inflicted severe hurt on susceptible individuals” when it despatched in heavy equipment to destroy a number of tents and constructions in November.

“Underneath the [previous] order, the Decrease Patricia encampment was permitted to remain except and till town demonstrated obtainable and accessible housing and daytime services for its occupants,” Coval wrote in his judgment.

He additionally accepted a number of affidavits from individuals who lived within the camp who stated they’d misplaced vital private gadgets as a result of metropolis’s demolition of their shelters, together with the stays of deceased members of the family, pictures and private identification.

Metropolis says it was performing in ‘good religion’

In a press release posted to its website Thursday, town stated it “sincerely apologizes to all those that skilled trauma from our actions.”

Nevertheless, the assertion additionally stated town had “acted in good religion” and that it had demolished the encampments with the “good thing about authorized recommendation, and in partnership with B.C. Housing and different service suppliers.” 

B.C. Housing has beforehand stated the choice to destroy the camps was made by town.

The aftermath of the demolition of a number of tents and constructions in a Prince George homeless encampment. (Kate Partridge/CBC)

The town’s assertion additionally stated that its intention “has been to advance and defend the curiosity, well being and security of all … residents — together with encampment occupants, downtown enterprise operators and residents of the close by Millar Addition subdivision.”

In a separate statement put up shortly afterward, town introduced it’s withdrawing its attraction of the October courtroom ruling, saying it’s “unlikely to realize both the instant results of closing the Decrease Patricia encampment or in any other case addressing the Metropolis’s issues regarding encampments within the metropolis.”

The town says it is not going to be offering additional touch upon the matter as t. are nonetheless pending authorized points associated to the homeless encampments.

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