The City of Abbotsford has officially approved changes it says will bring its parks bylaw in line with a BC Supreme Court ruling from last year.
The new bylaw allows homeless people to camp in certain areas of parks, if other shelter is not available.
The city opened its first 40-bed temporary shelter in December. On most nights, it’s almost full.
The city says it’s working to get the homeless into permanent housing, instead of having them sleep in parks.
Last fall, a BC Supreme Court judge ruled against city bylaws being used to ban the homeless from camping in the city’s parks, finding them unconstitutional.
The ruling put a limit on camping hours between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m..
Since then, Abbotsford has been reviewing its bylaw and has consulted with the City of Victoria, which lost a similar court case in 2008.
DJ Larkin, who represented the homeless in their court fight against the city, says it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not good enough.
“It doesn’t take into consideration the need for more than overnight camping and shelter during the day, as well as the fact that displacement itself causes harm, all of which was included in the BC Supreme Court decision.”
Larkin says Pivot will monitor the situation, but if things don’t get better for the homeless they may have no choice but to go back to court.
The new bylaws are a change in attitude for a city that gained national attention two and a half years ago, for spreading chicken manure on a homeless camp.