A BC Supreme court judge has sided with the homeless in an ongoing battle with the City of Abbotsford.
The city has been trying to close down a homeless camp on Gladys Avenue.
Lawyers for the Pivot Legal Society argued City bylaws banning the homeless from camping on city land infringed on their right to security.
The City argued the homeless do, in fact, have other housing options, and a camp is not fair to nearby homeowners.
The judge is refusing to order the permanent injunction the city had been seeking.
The ruling goes on to say “bylaws passed by the City which prohibit sleeping or being in a park overnight without permits or erecting a temporary shelter without permits violate the guarantee the right to life, liberty and security”.
However, the findings of the judge also concluded that the conditions found at the Gladys Avenue Camp were not safe enough for the camp to be kept going 24/7:
“The evidence about the Gladys Avenue Camp satisfies me that it is unsafe for the homeless and other residents of the City to permit any sustained occupation of a particular space by the homeless. The sustained presence of the homeless at the Gladys Avenue Camp has resulted in the accumulation of between 100 and 500 used syringes in a matter of days, human feces and rotting garbage left throughout the encampment, the presence of rats, and violence and criminal activity following the establishment of the encampment.”Chief Justice Hinkson concluded that allowing the City’s homeless to set up camps overnight between the hours of 7pm and 9am would “reasonably balance the needs of the homeless and the rights of other residents of the City.”
Abbotsford Business Community Reacts:
The Abbotsford business community says the city better make sure homeless camps are taken down at the required time.
Allan Asaph- Executive Director Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce- notes the judge says tents can only be put up in public spaces between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.
“I think there may be some concern whether or not this is going to continue to perpetuate the current situation; but we will see how the city manages the issue of the camps having to be struck down for specific periods of time.”
Asaph says nearby business owners are worried about property crime, fires, and medical emergencies at the Glady’s Avenue homeless camp.
LISTEN to CKNW reporter Shelby Thom discuss reaction on The Simi Sara Show:
LISTEN: City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps speak to Lynda Steele about the ruling.
Mayor Helps discusses Victoria’s role in setting precedent in this case, and what her city is doing to deal with homelessness.