Fraser Health/homeless court case adjourned

Backlog of cases delays hearing into injunction sought to force homeless campers on MSA Hospital lands to move

The site of a homeless camp on McCallum Road.

The site of a homeless camp on McCallum Road.

The Fraser Health Authority went to court Wednesday to seek an injunction about homeless protesters camping on a McCallum Road property it owns, but a backlog of cases saw the file adjourned until next week.

The health authority has applied for an order that would allow it to evict around a dozen campers who set up tents on land once occupied by the MSA Hospital and destined, eventually, to house a “community health centre.”

The camp has been in place since mid-July, and Fraser Health, which owns the property, says in its lawsuit that the inhabitants are trespassing on private land but have refused to leave, despite several prior requests.

Lawyers for Fraser Health were ready to present their case, and a representatives for the homeless – Tim Felger – was also in court. But the hearing, which was expected to last two hours, was stalled by a number of other matters being heard in Supreme Court in Vancouver. The injunction being sought is a temporary one, with Fraser Health planning to apply for a permanent injunction at a later date.

In the court documents, Fraser Health says it had always intended that a fence enclose the entire McCallum Road property, but it wasn’t aware until last month that the fence on the western boundary had been erected about 25 to 30 feet from the property line.

The campers set up in that unfenced strip, and when Fraser Health workers attempted to relocate the fence, they were unable to do so in the occupied area, the documents state.

Letters requesting that they vacate the area were delivered and read aloud to the inhabitants on July 14 and 20, and a formal “notice of prohibition of entry to premises” was delivered on July 18, according to the notice of civil claim.

Members of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) also requested that the occupants leave, but officers did not remove them or their belongings.

Fraser Health said the APD indicated it would not take action against the campers unless a court order was obtained authorizing them to do so.

The campers previously told The Abbotsford News that they believe their presence could put pressure on the provincial government and B.C. Housing to build more affordable housing and provide more social services.

-with files from Vikki Hopes