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CIVIL PROCEDURE - Leave to appeal - Injunctions

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 @ 9:08 AM  

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Application by the defendants for leave to appeal an interim injunction authorizing the City to enter an encampment and bring the lands into, and maintain them in, conformity with fire safety orders, requiring occupants to identify themselves by producing government-issued photo identification or by agreeing to be photographed and providing their full legal name and containing a police enforcement clause. The applicants occupied an encampment for the homeless on City lands. The encampment was established in 2017. Over time, fire safety hazards associated with the site became more acute, particularly as winter approached. Occupants of the camp sought to warm themselves by starting campfires and using flammable liquids and propane tanks. Pursuant to a consent order, the City was limited to entering upon the lands to assist the occupants in bringing the encampment into compliance with Fire Safety Regulations. As fire safety concerns persisted, the City applied for an interim injunction permitting entry onto the lands to effect compliance with the Fire Safety Regulations and address ongoing fire hazards. The applicants argued that the injunction constituted a serious injustice, including by infringing their privacy interests. They argued that the application amounted to a collateral attack on the consent order and the chambers judge erred in permitting it.

HELD: Application dismissed. None of the proposed grounds of appeal had been shown to raise questions of general significance to the practice. The appealed order was fact-driven. The conditions of that order turned on the chambers judge’s assessment as to where the balance of convenience lay in a particular context that raised complex social and public safety issues. The Court was not satisfied that the proposed appeal had significance to the action itself. The applicants did not establish an arguable case that the chambers judge erred in principle or that he made an order that was either unsupported by the evidence or would lead to a serious injustice. The injunction and consent order were not incompatible. The chambers judge did not err in determining that verification terms were required to facilitate the provision of housing to those in need. He properly exercised his discretion in balancing the public interest in the provision of adequate housing with the applicants’ privacy interests. The enforcement terms were not impermissibly vague. Prolonged litigation of an interim fire safety order would neither serve the interests of the parties nor advance the public interest in ensuring the safety of encampment occupants and the prevention of harm to those who owned or lived in nearby properties.

Maple Ridge (City) v. Copperthwaite, [2019] B.C.J. No. 442, British Columbia Court of Appeal, G.J. Fitch J.A., March 12, 2019. Digest No. TLD-April152019005