The BCCLA is urging the City of Vancouver to apply to court for an extension of time to replace a bylaw that was struck down as unconstitutional by the BC Court of Appeal. This bylaw regulates “structures” and objects that are placed on sidewalks as part of demonstrations or events, like tables for petition-signing and display boards. An amended version of the proposed bylaw was rushed into public release just days after the first version was widely denounced. The BCCLA says that the new bylaw proposal is still unconstitutional and wants the City to hold off enacting a law that is sure to land back up in court.
Rob Holmes, President: “This situation smacks of the hasty passage of the controversial Olympics anti-free speech by-laws. Citizens should not have to file lawsuits in order to get the City of Vancouver to properly consider the constitutionality of its bylaws. City Council should be operating on a civic version of the Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm.”
The BCCLA argues that the revised bylaw still unduly impairs political speech and any improvements over the original version are nullified by new problems in the revisions.
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director: “Not only is the City continuing to insist that you can’t place on a sidewalk unobtrusive, ordinary objects like a small table or your sport team’s stuffed bear mascot without a permit, you are fined $1,000 minimum for failure to get a permit for your object. To pretend that this “facilitates” speech is ludicrous. Bizarre, unnecessary and arbitrary restrictions on political expression violate free speech; full stop.”
The BCCLA also opposes the new proposal’s more restrictive limitations on the size of object allowable, the time restrictions and the inability to renewal permits.
Holmes: “We would like the City to get this right, because if it fails to amend the current proposal the Association will be bringing or joining a court case against it.”
Micheal Vonn, BCCLA Policy Director, 604- 630-9753
Robert Holmes, BCCLA President, 604-838-6856