By Mike Archer. News from the BC Supreme Court this month on the homeless front did not provide a lot of hope for the City of Abbotsford or the APD in their legal battles with Abbotsford’s homeless.
The judgment will most certainly have an impact, not only on the City’s looming battle with its homeless population in the Supreme Court but it may have an impact on the Human Rights Tribunal case in which they find themselves at odds with Abbotsford’s poor as well.
While most of the media focus has been on the BC Supreme Court trial set to begin June 29th (and last for six weeks), both the City and the APD are fighting with the homeless citizens of Abbotsford on two other fronts:
- Small Claims Court
- Human Rights Tribunal
While the APD has paid small amounts to desperately poor people before to make suits against them go away, the City and the APD still face a number of cases against them from individual homeless citizens seeking damages for mistreatment.
Vancouver ambassadors who told homeless to move along discriminated, judge rules
Justice Neena Sharma ruled Friday that the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal erred in 2012 when it dismissed a claim by the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users that the Vancouver Ambassadors program was unfairly targeting the homeless
The excesses of the APD and the City of Abbotsford make the actions of Vancouver’s “Ambassadors” pale into near insignificance.
In Vancouver’s case there was little or no physical or property damage suffered by the homeless – certainly nowhere near that meted out by Abbotsford authorities – but perhaps more importantly; the BC Supreme Court recognized and established the precedent that, as far as the Court and the Tribunal are concerned, race, physical disability or mental disability, are not the only measures for which organizations or individuals can be found guilty of systematic mistreatment.
In the Abbotsford cases, one of the big issues the City and the APD have been fighting is evidence of systematic policies and actions which discriminated against a class of people based on their financial situation and/or addiction. The APD tried to convince the court that the homeless should pay them $29,000 to get the evidence they need. The City tried to convince court that it is not responsible for what Chief Bob Rich’s department did to homeless people.
Why the City and the APD continue to spend taxpayers’ money fighting the poor is a mystery only Mayor Braun and council can explain since, despite nice words and some quick photo ops at the Gladys Street camp after some minor fires, both organizations appear just as determined to beat the homeless in court as they were under former Mayor Bruce Banman.
For the APD, which is facing its own problems involving allegations of corruption and misconduct, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) case should perhaps give the force’s leadership pause. The APD has been transformed due to a flurry of retirements over recent months and the PR problems it faces will certainly not be helped by this summer’s Supreme Court trial or the other cases as they move forward.
While there may once have been a possibility of a positive spin to be put on Abbotsford’s ongoing battle with its homeless population, any arguments for continuing to spend millions fighting the poor are rapidly disappearing.
Perhaps the time has come for the City and its police force to stop fighting the poor and help them.