BCCLA Joins DWS Case Against City Of Abbotsford

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has joined the BC Supreme Court constitutional litigation set for trial June 29 between the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS) and the City of Abbotsford as an intervenor.

After lawyers for the BCCLA and Pivot Legal Society addressed concerns from the judge about the fact that intervenors can sometimes expand or even hijack a court case, the judge granted the request this morning in BC Supreme Court.

Generally speaking, while intervenors do not make cases more complex (they cannot raise new issues) they provide unique perspectives to the court which assist the court in deciding the issues before it.

DJ Larkin, of Pivot Legal Society, which is representing the DWS in court, say, “This does not affect DWS or any of its individual members, but it could potentially affect the outcome of the case if the court finds the BCCLA’s contributions compelling.”

The news comes amidst ongoing discussions, behind closed doors, between the parties as part of a procedural requirement in the Human Rights Tribunal compaints cases against the City in order to determine if there is an atmosphere conducive to a negotiated settlement. A news blackout has been imposed by the tribunal on those discussions.

The Abbotsford Homeless Crisis has been going on for years ever since the City of Abbotsford enacted its Anti-Harm Reduction Bylaw which denied health care to drug addicts and led, according to Fraser Health, to some of the highest levels of Hep C and HIV in the country.

DWS and Pivot Legal Society effectively forced the City to rescind/retract that bylaw through the courts.

Deputy City Manager Jake Rudolph

Deputy City Manager Jake Rudolph

The City’s Anti Homeless Bylaws have been under attack since Pivot and the DWS engaged over the Jubliee Park protest which saw the City get an injunction forcing the homeless out of Jubilee Park on Christmas Eve in 2013.

The other cases between the two parties involve the world famous Chicken Manure Incident of June 4, 2014, and separate instances of the use, by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD), of pepper spray against homeless people and the theft and destruction of personal belongings.

Mayor Henry Braun campaigned on a platform of getting the City out of the court cases with its own citizens and, as one of its first acts, the new Abbotsford City Council instructed City Manager George Murray to explore a negotiated, out-of-court settlement.

Deputy City Manager Jake Rudolph has been the face of the City in the court cases which have been stalled for months as the City lawyers, presumably under Rudolph’s direction, have appealed and appeared to delay the proceedings at just about every opportunity in the process.

The City of Abbotsford has refused to release the costs of its court battles with its homeless population but estimates of as much as $10,000 per day have been suggested as representative of the kind of charges top law firms would charge in such proceedings.

Other relevant work of the BCCLA:

Squatters Rights
Aspects of Homelessness

Short Summary of Abbotsford’s Homeless Crisis:

Nick Zurowski, The Face of Homelessness in Abbotsford. Bas Stevens  Photo

Nick Zurowski, The Face of Homelessness in Abbotsford. Bas Stevens Photo

First came  John Smith’s announcement to the national media that he had instructed the APD to handle homelessness in downtown Abbotsford; then the Abbotsford Shuffle – otherwise known as Chief Bob Rich’s “disperse and displace” strategy for solving homelessness; then Mayor Banman’s Chicken Manure Incident (first revealed on Abbotsford Today); then there was the Standoff in Jubilee; followed by the ‘MCC Dignity Village‘ protest camp on Gladys Avenue and the gathering of more and more of Abbotsford’s homeless to the security of living with others and out in the open in the growing size and number of camps across from the Salvation Army and along Gladys Avenue.

Embarrassing Revelations

Abbotsford Homeless Camp. Bas Stevens photo.

Abbotsford Homeless Camp. Bas Stevens photo.

Along the way a few embarrassing revelations were uncovered and published by Abbotsford Today including
the fact that the Salvation Army knew about and was in agreement with the use of chicken feces to encourage the homeless to move from their camp across the street from the Sally Ann; and the rude and demeaning emails shared by police chief Bob Rich and his senior staff after the Chicken Manure Incident went worldwide.

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