Opening statements will begin Monday in a landmark case that pits the City of Abbotsford against its homeless population. The city’s homeless are challenging three bylaws that they claim have been used to displace the population from public spaces.
Pivot Legal Society is representing the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors in the case. Lawyer DJ Larkin spoke with CKNW’s Jill Bennett this morning.
“It’s a series of tactics against people that were very hurtful to them, and quite aggressive, including the use of chicken manure, and bear spraying and slashing people tents. Those are really, really serious actions taken against a group of people who really need the protection of their city and police and not to have them treated in an aggressive a really offensive way.”
Larkin says if successful, municipal governments could be compelled to shift away from policing and criminalizing homeless, and begin working towards long-term and sustainable solutions to the homeless issue.
“We’re not looking for an unrestricted right to camping in public spaces and parks, but we believe that there’s a balance that can be struck that protects both the safety of people in our streets and everyone else’s right to use and enjoy our public spaces.”
The proceedings expected to last three to four weeks.
*Provisions within the following bylaws prohibit sleeping in a park overnight or setting up a survival structure in any public space in Abbotsford are being challenged:
– Consolidated Parks Bylaw, 1996
– Consolidated Good Neighbour Bylaw, 2003
– Consolidated Street and Traffic Bylaw, 2006