Vernon council may reverse decision on shopping cart ban - InfoNews

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Vernon council may reverse decision on shopping cart ban

A Vernon homeless person and their shopping cart is pictured in this March 22, 2018 file photo.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
August 31, 2018 - 1:40 PM

VERNON - Concerned about the costs of legal challenges to a bylaw banning shopping carts from the streets of Vernon has city council rethinking the plan.

In a report going before Vernon city council at it's meeting next week, city staffers recommend the proposed bylaw to ban shopping carts from public property in the city be scrapped. Council had voted at their July 23 meeting in favour of the controversial ban.

The staff report says council should not enact the bylaw based on "the legal challenges and potential infringement on person's rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." The report goes on to say people requiring storage and transportation of their belongings will seek other means and use wagons, strollers, carts or roller bags. The report also highlights that many seniors use shopping carts to transport groceries.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says while council could go against the recommendation — and he wouldn't speak on behalf of his fellow councillors — he believes council would make a "logical and financial decision based on what's best for the community." Mund says the legal costs alone could add up to millions of dollars which is not in anyone's interest.

The proposed ban was seen as a direct attack on the city's homeless and sparked outrage from some in the community as well as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Pivot Legal Society. Those groups both wrote to council citing the ban violated B.C.'s Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. B.C. Civil Liberties Association staff counsel Megan McDermot had called the ban "cruel" and "inhumane."

Armstrong resident Sarah Anderson set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy homeless people wagons, hitting her $1,000 goal within days.

The proposed ban was one of 46 recommendations put forward by the Activate Safety Task Force chaired by mayoral candidate Darrin Taylor. All members of council except Juliette Cunningham voted in favour of the ban at the July 23 meeting, although Coun. Brian Quiring publically switched his position on the ban weeks later.

Quiring says his U-turn decision had nothing to do with staff's recommendation and he imagined there would be a lot of debate over the matter at next week's council meeting. Quiring says he changed his mind after receiving lots of letters and pleas against the ban.

"We have a problem but that's not the right solution, we need to figure out a better way, a different approach. I don't know how making their situation worse can make the communities environment healthier," Quiring says. "I want a solution that's going to elevate the condition of a homeless person not deteriorate it and taking away shopping carts would have deteriorated it."

The recommendation going before council at it's Tuesday, Sept. 4 meeting proposes council "not proceed with a bylaw which would ban commercial shopping carts on public property in the City of Vernon."


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