Blogger Charles LeBlanc sees bylaw charge over bike on sidewalk dropped
City says witnesses unavailable for trial, but LeBlanc cites constitutional challenge he filed with court
A controversial Fredericton blogger claimed another victory against the city on Wednesday.
The City of Fredericton dropped a $50 bylaw ticket against Charles LeBlanc for allegedly riding his bicycle on a sidewalk last summer.
City spokesman Wayne Knorr later explained in an email to CBC News the case was abandoned because "some witnesses were not going to be available for the trial date on April 11, and were not expected to be available any time in the near term."
But LeBlanc told reporters outside the courthouse he believes it's because he had challenged the City's ability to apply provincial law to sidewalks, and had alleged constitutional and charter violations by the City and police.
"The City appears to have acted beyond its legislated powers, by creating its own definition of 'street' and regulating the use of sidewalks, to prohibit cyclists from using the only safe alternative to the road," LeBlanc alleged in documents filed with the provincial court.
The provincial Motor Vehicle Act and Municipalities Act both define streets as areas designated for the passage and parking of vehicles, and exclude sidewalks, the documents state. Vehicles are referred to as self-propelled, not moved by human power.
"These acts do not have or give authority to regulate sidewalks travelled by cyclists. Since the City's powers only come from legislation the City has no authority in law to regulate cyclists on sidewalks."
The Motor Vehicle Act also requires municipalities to post signs, informing the public of any prohibitions enacted by bylaw under the act and no signs prohibiting cycling on the sidewalk are posted, the documents state.
In addition, the act, which appears to date back to 1960, stipulates: "Wherever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway."
"Since the City has no authority to regulate use of the sidewalks regarding cyclists, and has not provided any safe alternatives, sidewalks equate to usable paths for cyclists and the Applicant is entitled to cycle," LeBlanc argued in the documents.
The bylaw also discriminates against cyclists and those on low income, the documents claim.
Disputes with police date back to 2009
LeBlanc also alleges he is being harassed by members of the Fredericton Police Force over a history of disputes and two civil actions he filed against the City in 2014 and 2015, which are still before the court.
The force's spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. Knorr said only: "I believe that would be Mr. LeBlanc's personal opinion."
"FPF officers have previously issued tickets to the Applicant which appears to be for the purpose of targeting him, in retaliation for negative blog comments" and for videotaping the arrest of an off-duty soldier in 2009, which led to one of the arresting officers being charged with assault, but subsequently acquitted.
Since then, LeBlanc has faced two other bylaw tickets. One of them was dropped and LeBlanc ended up pleading guilty to disturbing the peace outside the police station.
LeBlanc was also charged with libel against a police officer before police seized a computer from his home, but that charge was dropped.
Two years ago, the City had LeBlanc's blog shut down, after he made a racial slur against an officer. He started a new blog shortly afterwards.
In May, he is scheduled to return to court to face an assault charge in connection with an incident in 2014.
LeBlanc "believes the City is attempting every way possible to convict [him] of anything they can to undermine his civil suits," the court documents state.
He also argued the City and the Fredericton Police Force were in conflicts of interests because of the ongoing civil actions.
The bylaw ticket stemmed from an incident on July 30, when a man claimed to have been almost struck by LeBlanc from behind while walking on a King Street sidewalk around 2:20 p.m.
The ticket was issued on Sept. 22.
With files from Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon