Park Trust vs Sheltering

Legal Proceedings

Summary

On February 24, 2022 we have received the decision from Justice Robert Punnett to the question which the City of Victoria posed to the BC Supreme Court, “Can the land known as Beacon Hill Park, held in trust by the City of Victoria be used by persons experiencing homelessness for temporary shelter?”.

Justice Punnett ruling supported the Friends of Beacon Hill Park (FBHP) view that any sheltering in the Park is in violation of the Terms of the 1882 Trust. It has been the purpose of FBHP since its founding in 1986, to defend the integrity of the terms of the Park Trust.

Justice’s 43 page decision is posted here:Justice Punnett Ruling 2022/02/24  

Background

FBHP had filed a civil claim against the City on December 4, 2020, to try to force the City to enforce the terms of the Trust and ban sheltering. In negotiations with the City, it was determined that the best course of action was to pose a question to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

As a background, with the arrival of the COVID pandemic and the resulting changes in Provincial Health rules, the City of Victoria was one of only a few cities across the country that responded by changing its city bylaws to allow people to establish 24/7 shelters in parks. In Victoria this included Beacon Hill Park along with several other selected city parks. Unfortunately, this resulted in increased violence, criminal activity, environmental degradation in the Park and a corresponding increase in the feeling of fear and insecurity in the neighbouring communities as well as a rapid decrease in park usage by the public at large and our seniors in particular.

The Beacon Hill Park Trust Supreme Court Case (BCSC S210676) hearing completed September 23, 2021, after 4 days of presentations. The Respondents allowed to present arguments during the hearing were the Attorney General of BC, City of Victoria, Friends of Beacon Hill Park, Together Against Poverty, and Shea Smith and Dennis Davies.

To help fund our court actions, FBPH raised over $34,000 in a GoFundMe campaign along with significant funding from other donors to pay for our legal cost.


We have provided additional information from our GoFundMe Introduction and Updates listed by date below. More information can be found in our newsletters.




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