As a challenge to the constitutionality of Abbotsford’s bylaws against camping in parks heads to court this summer, Pivot Legal Society representatives say they require information from Abbotsford police that could cost thousands of dollars.
DJ Larkin, a lawyer on the case representing some of the homeless in Abbotsford, said Pivot is looking for documents about how homeless people are treated in their interactions with police, such as end-of-shift logs for bike patrol officers, and files specific to eight individuals who have been homeless. While the city is the party named in the suit, Larkin said there are allegations about the police department and the documents are necessary to the case.
A judge has previously ruled the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) was to be treated as a third party and was entitled to recover any costs stemming from the case.
Pivot will appeal the judge’s decision, and the issue is currently set to go to the Court of Appeal on March 17. Pivot will ask the court to create a legal test to determine when it is reasonable to pay for third-party documents, and, in this case, why it would be reasonable to have a group of homeless people pay thousands for documents needed for litigation.
Const. Ian MacDonald said Pivot and the judge have recognized the APD as a third party. He said there is a real cost to police providing the documents – between $24,000 and $29,000 – for three individuals to compile all the files requested.
He said if Pivot doesn’t cover the costs, it falls on the taxpayers of Abbotsford. He said they have discussed with Pivot ways to reduce the request, but he said it still involves hundreds of files. He said the court has recognized that if a third party incurs costs related to the legal action, the requester pays the cost.