Peter A Allard School of Law

Rush to Judgment: Taking Stock of Court Injunctions Against Homeless Encampments in BC

Centre for the Law and the Environment Assistant

Centre for the Law and the Environment Assistant

Oct 30, 2023

Rush to Judgement: Taking Stock of Court Injunctions Against Homeless Encampments in BC

On October 26, 2023, the Centre for Law and the Environment held a launch event for the report "Rush to Judgment: Taking Stock of Court Injunctions Against Homeless Encampments in BC".

Homeless encampments on publicly-owned land have become a common symptom of the housing crisis in British Columbia. Sooner or later, governments often respond to them by going to court for injunctions to shut them down, dispersing many occupants to streets, parks or new encampments. The BC courts seem eager to oblige. But how eager exactly is a question that no one has studied systematically until now. This event marks the launch of a report of the first systematic study of how BC courts decide requests for injunctions to remove homeless encampments from publicly-owned land. The report paints a grim picture of the role of the courts in the intersecting crises of housing, homelessness, poverty, toxic drugs, mental health, racism and colonialism.




headshot Stepan Wood

Stepan Wood

Professor Wood obtained his LLB from Osgoode Hall, after which he served as a law clerk to the late Justice John Sopinka of the Supreme Court of Canada and practised law with White & Case in New York. He holds an SJD from Harvard Law School.

Prior to joining the Allard School of Law in 2017,  Professor Wood was Professor and York Research Chair in Environmental Law and Justice at Osgoode Hall Law School, where he was also Editor-in-Chief of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, Coordinator of the York University JD/Master in Environmental Studies joint program, and founding co-director of Osgoode’s Environmental Justice and Sustainability Clinical Program. Professor Wood is founding co-chair of the Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot.

headshot of Darlene

Darlene Kavka

Darlene was involved in advocacy for the disadvantaged in northern BC. She has practiced law in Prince George and northern BC since she was called to the bar in 2000. She has practiced in a variety of legal areas,  including in family, child protection and alternative dispute resolution as well as criminal law.

She is currently proud to be a supervising lawyer at the Prince George Community Legal Clinic. It was through her work with the Clinic that she became involved in the legal representation of the unhoused and precariously housed residents of Prince George.

Darlene has also devoted considerable time to the plight of those interacting with the criminal justice system, through her longstanding volunteer work with the Northern John Howard Society and the John Howard Society of British Columbia, both of which she joined in 2009.

Headshot of Anna Cooper

Anna Cooper

Anna Cooper is a staff lawyer with Pivot Legal Society. Pivot works in partnership with marginalized communities to develop solutions to complex human rights issues in four key policy areas: police accountability, health and drug policy, homelessness, and sex workers’ rights. Anna is currently focused on Pivot’s Homes for All campaign.    

Anna graduated from law school in 2013 and went on to practice primarily in criminal defence and involuntary mental health detentions prior to joining Pivot in August of 2017. She has a long history of working and volunteering alongside communities living at the intersections of oppression and believes deeply in justice and dignity for all peoples.    
As a white settler on the unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, Anna recognizes the inherent tension of using a colonial legal system as a tool for justice. She strives to practice law in a way that is in allyship with and service to grassroots movements, as one piece in the greater push for systemic change. 
headshot of Alex Kirby

Alex Kirby

Alex (he/him) is a fourth-year associate at Arvay Finlay. He practices primarily in the areas of constitutional, administrative, and Aboriginal Law. Alex has been counsel on several recent encampment cases, including Bamberger, the appeal of the Stewart decision, and the challenge to the mass eviction of the Hastings Block in Vandenberg, which remains on reserve at the BC Supreme Court.



  • Centre for Law and the Environment
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