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Church-Owned Property not Included in Court Order to Shut down Occupy

Court Order to Evict Occupy Only Applies to City Lands

by Toronto Media Co-op

Sunset at Occupy Toronto (Photo: Graeme Bacque)
Sunset at Occupy Toronto (Photo: Graeme Bacque)

A court ruling (Batty vs. the City of Toronto) came down today allowing the eviction of Occupy Toronto.  However, the Media Co-op has learned that it only applies to the City-owned portion of the St. james park.  The land owned by St. James Anglican Cathedral is private, and therefore the court order does not apply to it. 

A quote from the ruling (page 4):

"The City of Toronto owns the Park, the western boundary of which abuts grassed land owned by the Anglican Archdiocese of Toronto as part of the grounds of St. James Anglican Church.  Some of the Protesters’ tents and shelters occupy Church land.  The Church has not sought to enter these proceedings.  Accordingly, what is at issue simply is the validity of the Trespass Notice in respect of the City-owned lands."

The trespass order is only valid on the City-owned portion of the land.  Earlier investigations by the Toronto Media Co-op show that the church owns a portion of the west end of the park, on which the media/medic Yurt, the sacred fire and the food tent are situated. To evict occupiers from church land, the private property holder (St. James Cathedral) must request an eviction itself. Despite this, tents and other structures on the church land were tagged with trespassing notices last Tuesday.

In an earlier story we interviewed Kevin Tilley, a lawyer with the Movement Defence Committee, about the legality of a potential eviction on church property. Tilley indicated that "theoretically, the police could be trespassing on church property and the church could ask them to leave. It's also possible that police may just evict everyone and let the mess get sorted out later."

During the G20 demonstrations last year, police did not hesitate to use a fabricated "5 metre law" as justification for searches and arrests, so there is no guarantee that they won't come onto Church property to repress the protests. But if they do, they will be on shaky legal ground without a formal request from the church.

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update: shortly after this story was posted, church officials issued formal eviction notices to protestors on its property. Legally, the church will still have to call police in order to enforce this order.

 

 

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