Civil liberties group say Vernon's proposed shopping cart ban unconstitutional | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Civil liberties group say Vernon's proposed shopping cart ban unconstitutional

After 20 years of being homeless Sean Grant said he'll have to adapt to Vernon's proposed shopping cart ban. A civil liberties group says the proposed ban on shopping carts would be illegal.
August 24, 2018 - 4:15 PM

VERNON - The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is urging the city to axe it's proposed ban on shopping carts from public property, telling the city the bylaw would not stand up to a legal challenge.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association wrote in a letter addressed to Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund and the city councillors Aug. 23 saying the proposed bylaw was "blatantly discriminatory" and would not survive a constitutional challenge.

At council's July 23 meeting, based on the recommendation by the city's Activate Safety Task Force, the council voted in support of a citywide ban on shopping carts on public property.

Only Coun. Juliette Cunningham voted against the ban, although Coun. Brian Quiring reversed his decision to support the ban, publically stating so in a media release Aug. 23.

B.C. Civil Liberties Association staff counsel Meghan McDermott told iNFOnews.ca the proposed ban was "cruel" and "inhumane" and would likely not stand up in court if challenged.

McDermott said that creating a bylaw that stated "no shopping carts on public land" would be easy, but hard to defend if challenged in court.

"It's not quite clear to be me how they are going to frame (the bylaw)," said McDermott "If they want to make something that's compliant with the charter, I do think it's going to be very tricky."

McDermott pointed to a bylaw struck down by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in 2008 that ruled that it was unconstitutional for the City of Victoria to restrict overnight camping in its parks if all shelter beds in the city were full. She also pointed to a B.C. Supreme Court decision in 2015 that ruled in favour of a group of homeless people challenging municipal bylaws in the City of Abbotsford.

McDermott said Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights to liberty and security of the person and the proposed bylaw would infringe on that right.

"Part of the analysis is a weighing of the up the benefits to society versus the detriments of the people whose rights are being infringed," she said.

"The negative effects on the homeless are way, way more substantial than any kind of positive effects for the business community and the citizens at large... because of that, the court could find the (City of Vernon) didn't comply with the charter and the law."

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund said he wasn't surprised he'd received a letter about the proposed shopping cart ban. He said the letter had been sent to the city's legal counsel to review and for a report to be put together for council. Mund said he hoped the report would be ready for the Sept. 4 council meeting when the bylaw was supposed to be voted on.

When asked whether he was worried the bylaw could be challenged Mund said he wasn't.

"I look at the information logically and go 'is this the way we will proceed in the best interests of the community or do we go into a legal battle that would cost us millions of dollars?" said the mayor.

McDermott wouldn't say whether or not the not-for-profit group would make a legal challenge if the bylaw was adopted, but hoped political pressure would result in it being scrapped. She also praised Quiring's U-turn decision not to support the ban.

"I just don't think it's in anybody's interests to do this," she said.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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