Legal aid organizes clinic for Kitchener encampment residents facing eviction
Legal representation is being offered for encampment residents as the Region of Waterloo turns to the courts to evict people living at the Victoria and Weber Streets property.
The Waterloo Region Community Legal is offering its services pro bono.
The team visited the encampment on Thursday to meet and greet with encampment residents and begin the legal clinic process.
The Region of Waterloo is relying on the courts to determine for the next steps in the eviction process after the eviction deadline set for June 30 passed without action.
"There are people here who don’t trust people in positions of authority, so one of the jobs we have to do is to talk to people and to build some trust with them to make them understand that we are here to make their voices heard,” said Shannon Down, a lawyer with Waterloo Region Community Legal Services.
Residents at the camp say the legal aid clinic is a relief for those pondering their next steps.
Down said this is a big job with some major barriers for their small clinic.
"We can’t just pick up the phone to call our clients or email them, the people here for the most part don’t have access to technology or communications equipment," said Down.
“The efforts of the legal aid crew is appreciated, and I don’t think any of us would know where to start an injunction or a hearing or get before a judge,” said Michael Wosik, who lives at the site, a resident of the encampment.
“The region filed an application with the courts Tuesday, seeking a judge's approval to remove residents and their belongings from the site.
As part of the judge's orders, legal aid was notified and has taken up the task to offer representation to the people who live there.
The regions case for eviction includes a 524 page application filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The document contains nearly 200 pages of notes from private security hired to watch over the property.
Over 67-days of operation, security notes showed 24 days had no incidences, 20 days had one instance and the remaining 23 days had at least two instances. Some days had as many as five incidences.
The documents further showed a total of 88 incidences were reported, of which, WRPS was involved 13 times.
According to the court documents: “the region’s current monthly costs associated with the response to the Encampment are approximately $80,000 per month inclusive of on-site security provided by Barber-Collins Security, daily garbage pick-up, washrooms and security associated with provision of washrooms and cleaning.”