City council votes to ban people from “camping out” on any city property

Council was told security hired to prevent encampments wouldn’t make arrests. One councillor is questioning why city documents say otherwise.

After a large group of people began sleeping in tent city near city hall on Saturday, police were asked to clear them out and officers were given a deadline.

But Mayor Jim Watson and police say the group moved into the city office building and refused to leave.

The mayor says he then asked the city solicitor to have the city council pass a bylaw that would allow the city to remove encampments on its property.

In the end, council voted 5-3 on Tuesday to ban people from “camp out” on any city property and set up a 10-day deadline to take people out by law.

City staff are to report back in the coming weeks to council on the city’s proposal.

That bylaw, if it passes, will allow the city to remove people from any property near city hall, where they’ve set up camp.

“I think it’s important from a public safety perspective and also for public health and safety,” said Coun. Jeff Browaty.

He says he’s a bit surprised by the city’s presentation of the bylaw during a meeting on Thursday.

“I have a great deal of unease,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of misinformation in that part of their presentation.”

Coun. Jeff Browaty is questioning why city documents say otherwise. (CBC)

A request for an interview with city staff or city lawyer Mark Smith hasn’t been answered since the bylaw was first discussed at the council meeting, but Browaty says he’s still not satisfied.

The councillor says he’s concerned with the city’s use of police to remove the people, at a time when the city says

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