Metro newspaper is reporting that the Pivot Legal Society will be taking the City of Abbotsford to court over its ultra vires ‘Anti Harm Reduction Bylaw’ which makes it illegal to keep drug addicts alive long enough to save them by providing them with clean needles.
Last month, despite councillor Simon Gibson’s tenacious fight to preserve the bylaw, it was revealed that the vast majority of those who participated in the two public hearings on the bylaw want it rescinded. Council is currently reconsidering the bylaw.
The Fraser health Authority (FHA) has also said that, if push comes to shove, it will seek legal authority to enforce its mandate of providing health care services to Canadians regardless of the city they live in.
The FHA has explained to City Council that one of the reasons Abbotsford has some of the highest levels of HIV and Hepatitis C is that its addicts are forced to use dirty needles and rely solely on prayer to save them.
The FHA and a majority of councillors have argued that a multi-pronged approach including prayer is required rather than having only one solution for addicts.
“The social advocacy group’s lawyer, Scott Bernstein, will be filing a lawsuit and human rights complaint against the city Tuesday to argue that a 2005 amendment to its zoning bylaw (prohibiting “harm reduction use”) has put drug users at risk.
“The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of three illicit drug users and the B.C./Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors.
“A media advisory from Pivot states the plaintiffs are seeking declarations that the bylaw violates the Charter of Rights and the B.C. Human Rights Code by denying drug users clean needle distribution and other life-saving public health programs.
“Pivot scheduled a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Abbotsford, where copies of the pleadings will be made available to media.”