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GoFundMe Update Sept. 30, 2021

September 30, 2021:

by Roy Fletcher, Organizer

The Beacon Hill Park Supreme Court case (BCSC S210676), with Justice Robert Punnett presiding, concluded September 23rd after four days of presentations.

The Justice reserved his decision until a later date. We will let you know when we receive the decision.

The City of Victoria (CofV) Solicitor presented the case and the question being asked- “Can the land known as Beacon Hill Park, held in trust by the City of Victoria be used by persons experiencing homelessness for temporary shelter?” He emphasized that the question is a very narrow interpretation of the Trust and that no other uses were to be considered at this hearing. He introduced relevant legislation but took no position.

Friends of Beacon Hill Park (FBHP) asserted that the BHP Trust is a grant and as such must be interpreted by the original deed and not by the “modern rule”. They presented evidence to demonstrate the original intention of the legislators in 1882 in granting the land to CofV and asserted that the answer to the question must be "no".

The campers and Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) did a joint presentation. They asserted that Adams v CofV in 2009 gave people the right to overnight sheltering in BHP because of Charter rights and that the answer must be "yes". They indicated that if the Justice should find that temporary sheltering is contrary to the Trust, someone could eventually challenge any CofV bylaw that results from his ruling.

The Attorney General (AG-BC) asserted that the deed that created BHP was not a grant but was an enactment created as an Act of the Legislature. As such, it must be interpreted by the "modern rule". They asserted that the AG-BC was also the Minister of Housing and was active in securing housing. They asserted that the AG-BC was supportive of temporary sheltering in BHP during the pandemic. A second AG counsel asserted that the question being asked shouldn’t be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" but must be a nuanced answer somewhere between the two. They suggested that the Justice may decline to give an answer.

That concluded the presentation of evidence. All parties were given time for rebuttals.

John Alexander, counsel for FBHP, did many hours searching Land Titles documents and presented evidence that the land was transferred as a grant not an enactment. Justice Punnett commented on John’s extensive research.

The campers and TAPS counsel again asserted that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms over-ruled the Trust. They also asserted that the land was transferred as an enactment not a grant and "modern rule" applies.

FBHP argued that the use of the land was effectively a rezoning of land use and the Local Government Act and Community Charter provisions for rezoning had not been observed.

The CofV Solicitor agreed with FBHP that the BHP Trust was a grant and not an enactment. He also asserted that the use being considered is sheltering, not camping. He indicated that camping could be a recreational use of BHP and the Trust allows recreational uses.

The AG-BC counsel gave the final rebuttal and asserted that all land transferred under a provincial statute is an enactment not a grant and "modern rule" applies.

Now we wait for Justice Punnett's ruling.

There have been extensive costs in this case. The Friends of Beacon Hill Park and our beautiful Beacon Hill Park, would appreciate any financial help you are able to give.

Contact Information:
Roy Fletcher, President, Friends of Beacon Hill Park.

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