Belle Park encampment case to be continued as winter approaches

November 2, 2023

Story by Christena Lawrie, CFRC Broadcast Journalist, for the Local Journalism Initiative.

Legal teams representing the city and residents of the Belle Park encampment officially wrapped up their two days of discussions in court on Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, the city’s Lawyers took the floor for the majority of the day, arguing that the city should be granted permission to enforce its bylaw prohibiting camping in parks and evict the residents of the Belle Park encampment.

On Tuesday, the Kingston Community Legal Clinic lawyers, representing residents of the encampment pro-bono, laid out their case, reiterating points brought up Monday afternoon. These included lack of shelter space, barriers for accessing shelters, and the dangers of residents being distanced from the Integrated Care Hub. Their submission also heavily referenced similar cases across Canada which ruled in favor of leaving campers alone.

William Florence with KCLC pointed to past cases which ruled in favor of not evicting campers, arguing that to go against this precedent would be to “make law take two steps back”.

Justice Carter did not make a final decision regarding the case, instead setting a date for discussions to continue on Nov. 9, 2023.

While no decision has been made regarding evictions, with temperatures dropping, encampment representatives pointed out the issue of the court-ordered fire ban which was put in place at the city’s request in July. It was decided that the judge and lawyers involved in the case will regroup on Friday, Nov. 3 to discuss the ban, allowing the city time to have discussions with Kingston Fire and Rescue and come to a solution.