Street vending fines unconstitutional, say Pivot Legal Society
Four residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are launching a constitutional challenge after being ticketed for selling personal items on the sidewalk.
Residents of the city's poorest postal code can often be seen selling used goods on the sidewalk outside a boarded up storefront on East Hastings Street.
Defendant Ralph George says the group are fighting the public perception that they are selling stolen goods.
He insists none of the four is a shoplifter. Instead, they are binners, who go through other peoples trash looking for items to sell to supplement their welfare cheques.
"All of it is clothes, or used appliances. It's nothing ever new. You are not going to find new stuff in the garbage. It's just a way off accessing extra funds for ourselves to make it to the end of the month."
The legal challenge is being backed by the Pivot Legal Society lawyer Doug King, who claims the city's bylaws infringe on the right to security of the person.
"Vancouver's bylaws prohibit the act of street vending outright, unless a person applies for a permit which would cost more than $800 and are given primarily to food cart operators," said a statement released by Pivot.
"Each has received a bylaw ticket and $250 fine for selling their old property such as used running shoes and books on the street."
King says his although his clients don't deal in stolen goods, police shouldn't be ticketing anyone selling on the street.
"If the city really wants to regulate stolen goods, the criminal law is the place to do that. Not the city's bylaws."
King's arguments that the city's bylaws are unconstitutional will be heard later this week.