British Columbia

Abbotsford's homeless campers will have their day in court

A group of homeless people in Abbotsford, B.C., will be able to argue in court that they have the right to set up camp in a city park, after the B.C. Supreme Court agreed to hear the constitutional challenge on Monday morning.

B.C. Supreme Court has agree to hear constitutional challenge

Residents at the homeless protest camp in Jubilee Park in Abbotsford, shown in 2013, argue they have the right to camp the park. (CBC)

A group of homeless people in Abbotsford, B.C., will be able to argue in court that they have the right to set up camp in a city park, after the B.C. Supreme Court agreed to hear the constitutional challenge on Monday morning. 

Pivot Legal Society lawyer D.J. Larkin, which is representing the homeless group at Jubilee Park, says that city bylaws prohibiting camping on public property are unconstitutional because they put peoples' lives at risk.

The case is one of two attempts by Pivot to defend the right of homeless people to camp in city parks.

Pivot was also in court in Vancouver on Monday morning seeking to block an injunction from the City of Vancouver to evict another group of homeless campers out of Oppenheimer Park on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The constitutional challenge was provoked by a long string of events in Abbotsford, including an attempt by city workers to deter homeless people from camping in a park last year by dumping chicken manure at the site.

Larkin says the Abbotsford case is an important part of their strategy.

"We're going to continue to see people living on the streets, and whether they do it visibly with other people in a camp situation, or along under a bridge, they're going to be out there and they're in danger," Larkin told CBC News on Monday morning.

"What we don't want to see in the interim is municipalities using their laws to criminalize people and making their lives more dangerous."

 


 

With files from Rafferty Baker

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