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Legal battle over Kitchener encampment begins in court

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The legal battle over the future of a large downtown Kitchener encampment started in court Monday.

The Region of Waterloo is seeking to clear the site at the corner of Victoria and Weber Streets. Encampment residents are being represented by legal aid.

The region issued an eviction notice to people living at 100 Victoria Street earlier this year, giving them until June 30 to leave.

When eviction day came and went and the encampment remained intact, regional officials turned to the courts.

Monday’s proceedings started with submissions from lawyers representing the Region of Waterloo.

Aside from laying out the region’s case as to why it should be able to remove people living at 100 Victoria Street, they also want court direction on how to carry out a possible eviction.

The region says it brought the issue to court because it wants a fair process that allows encampment residents to bring their case forward.

Its lawyers are arguing encampment residents have clearly violated a bylaw prohibiting tents or dwellings on regional property and that is has become a chaotic and dangerous place.

They also say it’s clear the region has the emergency shelter capacity to offer a bed to anyone who need its.

According to the region, the encampment has been at 100 Victoria Street in some capacity since December of last year.

At its peak, the region estimates it had grown to around 70 tents.

The region says it has gone to great lengths to create more emergency shelter beds, and there are enough beds to accommodate everyone at the camp.

The region says staff have offered the residents adequate shelter. While the residents of the encampment often do not take the offer, according to the region, that does not give the them the right to live at 100 Victoria Street.

The region says if the eviction is granted, it's not clear how long they would give the residents to leave. The idea of thirty days was floated.

The region's lawyer also says if an eviction order is granted, police would have to be involved.

At some point, the legal aid clinic representing encampment residents will have the opportunity to bring forward their case, although that may not happen until Tuesday.

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