City appeals ruling that allowed homeless lawsuit to proceed

City of Abbotsford lawyers previously argued that the case should be thrown out

A homeless camp that was constructed in Jubilee Park last year was cleared after the city received an injunction.

A homeless camp that was constructed in Jubilee Park last year was cleared after the city received an injunction.

The City of Abbotsford is appealing a B.C. Supreme Court decision from September that allows a lawsuit to proceed that contends the city’s bylaws against camping in parks are unconstitutional.

The city had asked the courts to throw out the lawsuit, which it is fighting against the B.C./Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors (DWS), a group representing some homeless people in Abbotsford.

City lawyers had argued that the case was too broad and, although it alleged a breach of people’s right, it did not name individual plaintiffs or specific instances in which the charter had been violated.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Hinkson disagreed with city lawyers on Sept. 29 and ruled that the DWS application, which it has launched with the support of the Pivot Legal Society, could proceed.

Pivot lawyers had said that they hoped the lawsuit would go to trial in 2015, but the appeals process now delays that matter.

Either side also has the option of appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada whatever decision is reached in the B.C. Court of Appeal, potentially extending the delay even longer.

The lawsuit was filed by the DWS after residents who had established a protest camp in Jubilee Park in October 2013 were given an eviction notice from the city.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted the city an injunction in December that required the homeless people leave the park, citing contravention of the city’s parks bylaw.

At the time, Pivot argued that the city’s bylaws were unconstitutional, but the judge said that issue would need to be decided at a separate trial, which Pivot lawyers and DWS opted to pursue.

Meanwhile, a large homeless camp remains on city land on Gladys Avenue.

– with files from Alex Butler and Tyler Olsen