May 6, 2024 – Sarnia City Council has voted to wave solicitor-client privilege and publicly release legal advice regarding removal of an encampment received during its in-camera meeting on May 6, 2024.

The report, from external legal counsel Aird Berlis LLP, provides advice related to the legal implications for the possible eviction of an encampment at Rainbow Park. 

The report’s executive summary states:

“In the present circumstances, the City does not have the legal authority to evict encampment residents from Rainbow Park. Based on the judicial guidance, such enforcement actions would violate the rights of encampment residents under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The constitutional ‘right to shelter’ under section 7 of the Charter is engaged where there is a lack of available and truly accessible indoor shelter space, which appears to be the situation that the City is currently faced with. The onus would be on the municipality seeking to evict encampment residents to demonstrate that there is sufficient, accessible shelter space.

At this time, it is strongly recommended that the City stand down on forcibly removing encampment residents from Rainbow Park. Instead, the City should focus its efforts on outreach and support with appropriate social services agencies, and taking measures to address any perceived risks to public safety. If the City were to proceed unilaterally with encampment enforcement and eviction, it would face significant litigation risk.”

Read the full report