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BCCLA reacts to decision in Abbotsford homeless rights case

For immediate release

Vancouver –Today, a decision was issued in the case of BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors v City of Abbotsford, a prominent constitutional case challenging three city bylaws that have been used to displace Abbotsford’s homeless population from public spaces throughout the city.

The BC Supreme Court ruled that Abbotsford’s anti-homeless bylaws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Chief Justice Hinkson determined that the homeless, like all citizens, have a right to access and use public spaces. He determined that the Abbotsford bylaws which effectively prohibit sleeping or being in a city park overnight or erecting a temporary shelter without permits are unconstitutional. The bylaws violate the rights to life, liberty and security of the person under s. 7 of the Charter, and are of no force and effect.

“This significant decision recognizes that telling Abbotsford’s homeless, who have nowhere else to go, that they cannot sleep outside and protect themselves from the elements places them in an impossible situation.

Anyone who cares about the safety of homeless people and finding real solutions to the serious problems of homelessness in our communities should be heartened by this important decision.” said Grace Pastine, Litigation Director for the BC Civil Liberties Association.

The Court’s decision permits Abbotsford’s homeless to erect shelters in public spaces between 7:00 pm and 9:00 am the following day. It will be up to the city of Abbotsford to determine which specific areas can be used for overnight sheltering.

The BCCLA welcomes this decision as one more important step towards ending the harassment and displacement of people who sleep outside when no shelter is accessible.

The BCCLA was an intervenor in this case, represented by Alison Latimer of Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP.

The BCCLA congratulates Pivot Legal Society for representing the clients in this case, and for this hard-fought victory.

The decision is available here.

The BCCLA’s argument in the case is available here.

Media Contacts

Grace Pastine, BCCLA Litigation Director, 604-630-9751, [email protected]

Josh Paterson, BCCLA Executive Director, 604-630-9752, [email protected]