It feels safer to live in a tent at a city park than to stay in shelters or hotels far from services during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of homeless men and women told a Toronto court Thursday.

The group – which includes 14 people living in encampments and two activist organizations – is seeking an interim order to allow the homeless indviduals to stay in Toronto parks until a constitutional challenge of a city bylaw is heard.

The bylaw bans living or camping in parks after midnight.

The group fighting it claims evictions from encampments violate the rights of the homeless, while the city says the Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn’t entitle members of the group to live in parks.