Judge rules that Burnaby can evict Camp Cloud

City of Burnaby went to B.C. Supreme Court on Friday to evict Camp Cloud residents

This story has been updated with new information.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled on Friday afternoon that the City of Burnaby can evict Camp Cloud from its spot on Burnaby Mountain.

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Justice Geoffrey Gomery has given Camp Cloud residents 48 hours from the time they are served with a court order to take down all structures and leave the camp that has been set up on Shellmont Street. He has authorized Burnaby to “remove and demolish structures.”

The city emailed a news release Friday night saying no date and time have been set for when the actual removal of Camp Cloud would begin.

“Based on the Order, the City will now develop a plan for the dismantling of Camp Cloud,” the release said. “The timeline for dismantling the camp will be determined, in consultation with the RCMP.”

No Camp Cloud residents were in court when Gomery issued his ruling, but representatives have told the NOW previously they will not leave willingly - even if the court approves an eviction.

Gomery ruled that after the 48 hours are up, the order that must be followed includes the following restrictions:

  • 1. Defendants and any other person having notice of order restrained from building, placing, maintaining structures, temporary or permanent camping or lodging facilities in area on map, including all city property on Shellmont camp site
  • 2. Inhabiting any shelter, structure in Shellmont camp site
  • 3. Parking, placing any vehicles, trailers within Shellmont camp or adjacent roads
  • 4 Starting, allowing or maintaining any open flame or heat source in the Shellmont camp site
  • 5. Placing any gravel, fill or other material on Shellmont camp site
  • 6 Defacing, damaging any barriers, fencing, signage, poles, road ways for other city property on or around Shellmont camp site

The city was told by the judge that if Camp Cloud residents have not vacated the property and taken down the structures, then the city is allowed to remove all residents and structures.

Judge Gomery said Camp Cloud had changed dramatically from its origins, and it had become necessary to take it down.

“The present occupants can continue to use the land in question for protest purposes without camping there over night and maintaining the associated facilities on land owned by Burnaby,” Gomery said. “It is unfortunately clear that the goals of the defendants and occupants of Camp Cloud have evolved. While they established the camp for the purpose of protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, they’ve now begun to view the campsite as their land. They’re blocking a public right of way, and members of the public have been made to feel unwelcome. As (City of Burnaby lawyer Greg) McDade put it, they’re no longer protesters sharing public space but rather are appropriating it for themselves.”

The issue of the camp's "sacred fire" - which burns 24 hours a day - was of particular concern for the judge.

“I’m very troubled by the fire,” said Gomery. “I think it’s been approximately a month since the Lower Mainland has seen any rain at all. I’m going to make that order, and I don’t think that there should be any significant delay in putting that fire out.”

City of Burnaby lawyer Greg McDade went before Gomery in the morning to secure a court order to enforce an eviction notice.

The issues before the judge were complicated as previous rulings have supported Camp Cloud’s right to exist.

McDade said in court that the city is not opposed to protests and is sympathetic to the cause, but added that issues involved with Camp Cloud have escalating since it was first established.

“The structures really have nothing to do with protest … They are not themselves functions of the protest,” McDade said. “They’re claiming it’s unceded aboriginal land and so the building rules don’t apply to them. That is not something that the city can countenance.”

McDade highlighted one incident, in which Camp Cloud members kicked out a senior member of the Burnaby Fire Department, saying the event was “on the edge of violence.”

“This is not a matter of protesters sharing city space,” McDade said.

McDade outlined for the judge a series of bylaw violations, including:

  • Building bylaw contraventions for two wood structures erected at the camp - the carvers’ cabin and a second building referred to as a cabin for women and children.
  • Traffic bylaw contraventions, including parking a trailer on city land for more than 24 hours. “These vehicles are there effectively permanently,” McDade said.
  • The 24-hour “sacred fire” is a violation of the fire services bylaw. In regards to the fire, fire department Chief Joe Robertson said in an affidavit that BC Hydro and Shell have both filed complaints. “A wildfire among those trees could have devastating consequences,” McDade told the judge.
  • Violating the sewage bylaw due to Camp Cloud residents having showers. Judge Gomery, however, disagreed that water coming from the camp’s shower met the definition of sanitary sewage.

Kyle Friesen, a lawyer representing the RCMP, referenced Justice Kenneth Affleck’s injunction that highlighted the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protest.

“We’re missing all three of those items for the Camp Cloud scenario,” he said, adding that the camp has “morphed” into a greater threat to public safety since that injunction.

Friesen added that the law must be upheld.

“No one is above the law. There are no law-free zones in this country anywhere, let alone at Camp Cloud.”

Friesen said the RCMP is also concerned about vigilante retaliation against Camp Cloud.

“We’re really concerned about people who are saying, ‘OK, courts, OK city, OK, RCMP. You’re not doing your job. We’re going to come in here and clean it up ourselves.’ And that’s what the RCMP wants to avoid.”

Friesen said the RCMP will need time to develop a plan in conjunction with the city on how the eviction will take place, so the removal isn't a "mad scramble." There will be an “exclusion zone” created for police enforcement, Friesen said, which would take time, maybe a number of days. Police can create a “safe bubble” around whatever they’re doing to ensure officer safety, public safety, he said.

- With reporting by Cornelia Naylor



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