Halifax settles civil suit against city over homeless camps

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

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The city has been asked to pay $40,000 to settle an ongoing civil rights lawsuit, but its lawyers have denied the request and are asking for more time to negotiate, a city spokesperson confirmed to the media Tuesday.

The settlement is a result of a lawsuit from the Nova Scotia Coalition for Peace (@nscoalitionpeace), a Halifax-based group that accuses the city of trying to shut down a peaceful camp for homeless people in Nova Scotia.

The group had asked the city for $5,800 in legal costs and $7,500 in penalties, arguing police officers employed by the city failed to make arrests of those sleeping outside the camp on a section of the highway for seven nights last April.

The civil suit, which includes an additional charge of wrongful arrest, cites the alleged police failures. It also cites a previous lawsuit filed by the group in 2017.

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The civil suit claims “the City of Halifax is engaged in a systematic campaign of intimidation and harassment” that has disrupted a free and open camp for homeless men and women in the South End.

“The City has refused to accept its municipal responsibility to protect its citizens from the grave risks of homelessness,” the suit alleges. “This is in direct opposition to the duty and trust the City owes to the citizens it serves.”

On Tuesday night, a day after the news story broke, city spokespeople made public the city’s internal response to a lawsuit regarding the camps on Highway 7.

The city responded to that complaint by sending the news media a copy of an email it sent to the campers last year.

The civil suit asks for the legal costs and fees and the $7,500 penalty.

In the email, the city said it couldn’t comment on individual council requests for legal assistance as the issue is before the courts and the province’s Ombudsman.

But the email also referenced an internal memo from

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