Former homeless man challenges Vancouver bylaws
Published Thursday, November 22, 2012 10:06AM PST
Last Updated Thursday, November 22, 2012 7:36PM PST
Vancouver bylaws that prohibit people from sleeping outdoors on streets, parks and other city properties are being challenged by a former homeless man in a civil suit.
Pivot Legal Society is filing the suit for Clarence Leonard Taylor, a 57-year-old man who was homeless for three years after he couldn’t find safe and affordable housing.
“I've tried to stay at shelters and in SRO hotels, but was horrified by the violence I saw, and felt safer outside," said Taylor. "I wasn't in anyone's way, but was consistently told I had to move somewhere by the police and engineers. Where was I supposed to go?"
Taylorsaid while he was homeless, between 2009 and 2012, he was approached by police and city staff around 100 times. He was issued several tickets for having sleeping structures on the street.
Pivot will challenge three Vancouver bylaws -- Street and Traffic, Parks Control and City Land Use Regulation -- on behalf of Taylor, arguing they violate his charter of rights.
"The effect of these three bylaws is that there is no legal place a person can sleep or shelter themselves outside in Vancouver," said Pivot lawyer Scott Bernstein. "On National Housing Day, we need to recognize that until our government is able to provide safe and affordable housing for all low-income people, there will be people who have to or choose to sleep outside. Making this activity illegal increases the harm to them and violates their charterrights."
In 2008, a man successfully sued the City of Victoria’s for their bylaws that prohibit homeless people from erecting shelter in city parks. The decision that deemed the bylaws unconstitutional was also affirmed by the Court of Appeal the following year.
Pivot said the City of Vancouver, however, claims this decision does not apply to the city and continues to ticket homeless people for sleeping outside.