Trail city council has a problem with new provincial legislation they worry would make it harder for them to enforce their bylaws around homeless encampments.
The government wants to amend the Community Charter to describe “reasonably available alternative shelter” when local governments seek injunctions over encampments.
The government said the amendments will describe “reasonably available alternative shelter” as a staffed place where someone can stay overnight and access a bathroom, shower, and meal. They said the purpose is to “inform a court’s analysis of injunction applications for a decampment.”
Housing minister Ravi Kahlon said he hopes it will provide “clarity and guidance” to municipalities seeking injunctions to enforce bylaws, while ensuring people can access places to stay that provide for their basic needs.
However, Trail councillor Thea Hanson said it will impede their ability to enforce bylaws and make dismantling of encampments “considerably more challenging.”
She said a location was found for a new temporary shelter in Trail only after extensive searching and “many spaces not ticking all the boxes.”
Hanson said under the proposed legislative changes, if the current shelter shut down and an encampment was set up, it would be harder for the city to seek a court injunction to remove it.
“We’d like to ensure the province remains responsible for providing funding and shelter space for vulnerable populations and the City of Trail has the ability to enforce our bylaws,” she said.
She asked for a letter to the minister opposing the amendments, which passed 6-1 with only councillor Nick Cashol opposed.