Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

The City of Edmonton challenges the right of a defend the homeless in justice

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There are thousands of debris on the sites of the dismantled encampments in Edmonton.

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In Edmonton, the City is contesting the right of an organization to defend the homeless in court, however the mayor has announced the holding of a special meeting of the municipal council next week to discuss the matter. homelessness emergency.

The legal battle between the City of Edmonton and the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights (CJHR) continued Thursday at the courtyard.

The Coalition opposes the municipal policy of demolishing encampments which, according to it, violates rights guaranteed by the Charter. The City, for its part, believes that this group does not have the legitimacy to appear before the courts on behalf of the homeless.

Preliminary arguments heard Wednesday and Thursday focus on whether or not the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights can pursue this legal action. The City says the law requires that cases involve people with a vested interest in the matters at hand.

For its part, the Coalition maintains that it has every reason to do so. We assert that we are an appropriate litigant, an appropriate party to this litigation, that there are a lot of obstacles facing the people directly affected, the people living in encampments, and that there are “There is no other organization that has come forward,” says Anna Lund, one of the defense group's lawyers.

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According to Anna Lund, lawyer and associate professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta, the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights has every right to represent the homeless in court.

Chris Wiebe, another lawyer for the CJHR, adds. He says the organization is made up of many community workers and organizations who have supported various encampments across Edmonton over the past two years.

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People living in encampments in Edmonton, for various reasons, are not able to take this legal action on their own. They need a public interest litigator.

A quote from Chris Wiebe of the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights.

The lawyer adds that the group has a long history of advocating on behalf of people living in encampments, particularly regarding the availability and improvement of shelter standards, including in the Wetaskiwin region. /p>

According to the Coalition, the municipal policy of evictions from encampments leads to the loss of property. Over the past two years, evidence presented in court shows there have been thousands of evictions from encampments, and I'm not exaggerating, says Chris Wiebe.

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Lawyer Chris Wiebe of the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights hopes the court will recognize their right to act for homeless people whose encampments are destroyed in Edmonton.

Arguments that lawyers for the city of Edmonton find unreasonable.

The City and the police have defended their decision to evacuate the encampments citing the risks to public safety for the entire community and the people living in the encampments.

Whether there will be a full trial in this case depends on the court's decision. She is expected by next Tuesday.

If the court finds that we have the opportunity to act, and that we can present this procedure, we will then argue on the necessity or not of an injunction preventing or limiting the closures of encampments which would last until until a full trial of this case can be heard.

A quote from Anna Lund of the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi has called a special meeting of city council on January 15, during which he plans to propose a motion to declare a housing and homelessness emergency, says the press release from the mayor's office

Mayor Sohi has heard that recent encampment demolitions go against the City's commitment to reconciliation.

The encampments are a symptom of a systemic problem.

A quote from Excerpt from press release from the Mayor's Office

If City Council approves this [motion], the Mayor will invite Provincial Minister Responsible for Social Services Jason Nixon, Federal Minister Sean Fraser and Treaty 6 Grand Chief Cody Thomas to a meeting x27;emergency so that all levels of government can take measures together, continues the press release.

In a written statement, Deputy Prime Minister Mike Ellis, for his part, recalled the creation of a Cabinet committee responsible for defining measures particularly regarding encampments and security problems.

In this same written statement, the Minister of Seniors, Communities and Social Services, Jason Nixon, affirms that it is dangerous for the mayor and others to suggest vulnerable Albertans have nowhere to go.

According to him, this risks discouraging people experiencing homelessness from going to shelters.

Members of the committee, which includes among others the Grand Chief of the Treaty 6 Confederacy, Cody Thomas and the Chief of Police of " Edmonton, Dale McPhee, have been meeting constantly since the end of November 2023 to plan measures, continues Mike Ellis' statement.

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