APD Still Refusing To Give Up Documents In Homeless Lawsuits

Abbotsford’s homeless citizens, who have now been in court with the City of Abbotsford for almost two years, will be asking BC’s appellate court on March 17 to find a better way to get the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) to give up documents it needs for it cases.

The cases involve abuse and damages to citizens at the hands of police and city workers and the much debated Anti-Homeless Bylaws Abbotsford uses to keep the poor from using public land as a place of refuge.

For years the APD has followed Chief Bob Rich’s ‘displace and disperse’ policy of moving people who suffer from mental illness and drug additcion around town. A.K.A. the ‘Abbotsford Shuffle’, the policy has thrown into question the relationship between cities, the police and their citizens and promises to make Candian constitutional history.

Pivot Legal Society, which represents the city’s homeless, has been unable to get the documents it requires from the APD. The documents are important because they show how the APD and the City of Abbotsford worked together to enforce the City’s bylaws.

[excerpt] Advocacy group to challenge legal costs ahead of ‘tent city’ eviction case – Globe and Mail.
Pivot Legal Society – which is representing the B.C./Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors (DWS), as well as some other individual homeless people evicted from the camp – will ask the B.C. Court of Appeal to come up with a new legal test to determine whether people with limited means should have to pay the full cost of document disclosure in such instances.

“We want the documents that show how [the city and police] work together, and how these bylaws get enforced against people who don’t have a fixed address, who are just consistently displaced over and over again,” Ms. Larkin said.

Because the APD is not a named party in the suit, it is considered a third party. Justice Hinkson ruled that, as such, the APD is entitled to recover the costs incurred in collecting these documents.

Constable Ian MacDonald, spokesman for the APD, said two early estimates have the cost at $24,000 and $29,000. This covers the cost of three employees – two searching for and compiling an estimated 400 files, and one to screen materials for privacy issues – and almost 500 hours of work, he said.

Lawyers had originally applied to obtain documents for 20 homeless people but have since narrowed it down to eight. Constable MacDonald said the department continues to be open to discussions with Pivot on how to reduce the costs.


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