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Homeless win right to camp in city parks


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#361 victorian fan

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 12:22 PM

I see you've edited your comments.

#362 Caramia

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 12:43 PM

I wish Kirsten the best, but the arrests are a necessary part of the process she is engaged in - to bring this back to the courts and get clarity on the law. This clarity is something all parties need if we are going to move forward.

I've been thinking about this a lot and because I support the idea that people can shelter themselves at night I'm convinced that the current course of action that the activists are engaged in is the best course for everyone. If we wait for a City Hall appeal of the ruling, another judge may very well throw it out... meaning that people who sleep in parks at night will no longer be able to put a tent or tarp over their heads. However, if clarity is achieved through a trial, we have a better chance of sorting things out outside the court of appeals. The more layers this thing has, the harder it will be to overturn the right to put up a tent at night.

If the court finds Kirsten guilty of breaking the bylaws then the 7am deadline for tent removal will stay - and the City is less likely to spend tax-payer dollars in the court of appeals. Right now, the activists have the City backed into a corner. If they agree that people have a right to erect a tent when and where they want at any time of the day, then the City has no tools to use to move people on who do put up tents in playground, or who use tent cities as a nest for criminal behaviour. Kirsten and her friends are not a problem here, they govern themselves in a very tidy way. But the law applies to everyone, and when children's play areas throughout the city get taken over by drug users - as has already happened even before this ruling in parks around Burnside, then the City must have the ability to stop it.

At least that is the way I am thinking about it right now. If someone has a better understanding of the law than I do, I'd be interested in an analysis.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#363 Roger

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 07:45 PM

I wish Kirsten the best, but the arrests are a necessary part of the process she is engaged in - to bring this back to the courts and get clarity on the law. This clarity is something all parties need if we are going to move forward. .................
.....................................
At least that is the way I am thinking about it right now. If someone has a better understanding of the law than I do, I'd be interested in an analysis.


Caramia,

I wonder if the activists realize that their actions can be harmful to the poor and homeless in Victoria. The food banks and Salvation army are finding shortfalls in donations due to the economic climate and the recession. The last thing we need right now is negative feelings towards those in need of help. Unfortunately, that is what you get when Johnston and his followers camp under the Christmas tree at city hall and snub their fellow citizens and their families. Civil disobedience and activism has its place. However, there is always a public backlash and doing so at Christmas during a charity drive is not a good idea.

Most people know the difference between social activists, with an agenda, and those who are truly in dire straits. These folks will continue to contribute as best they can. But there will be others who may feel frustrated and that their kindness is being taken for granted. They may give less or not at all and this is bad news for everyone. This may not even be a conscious decision. Some may just walk by the "kettle" with the intention of putting something in later and never doing so.

I hope that we have heard the last from Kirsten ,Johnston, Dodds et al for the balance of the year. My other wish is that Victorians continue to support the local charities in the coming months as they have done in years past.

#364 Ginger Snap

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 08:04 PM

The city’s lawyers, as well as the lawyers representing the homeless campers, spoke with Madam Justice Ross on Friday, asking her to clarify her ruling.
The judge refused, leading many to believe that the bylaws may in fact be of no force and effect at all times, as opposed to just at night, as the city insists.



In fact, the judge refused to clarify her ruling because that ruling is currently facing an appeal, no other reason.

#365 mat

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 08:18 PM

It is a frustrating effort to clarify any law, or in this case a city bylaw, through the courts. Especially when a lower court must, through acts and precedence, refer to a higher court. Law takes time, and it costs money.

This action has only been really tested since the ruling in October, and that took 3 years for a resolution. Until a superior court can hear an appeal, and all sides have indicated they are ready for argument, there will be no decision on law.

What the homeless activists are after is an injunction - a ruling that sets aside the city bylaw until the appeal is settled. The city, quite naturally, is fighting that.

#366 LJ

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 09:08 PM

I've been thinking about this a lot and because I support the idea that people can shelter themselves at night I'm convinced that the current course of action that the activists are engaged in is the best course for everyone. .


If there are no shelter space available they can shelter themselves at night, according to the ruling.

If there are shelter spaces available and they choose not to avail themselves of them, they are no longer "shelterless", they are merely petty criminals, and should be treated as such.

Their energies would be much better spent working/volunteering at shelters, soup kitchens, old folks homes, and other various charitable organizations. The general public would have much more sympathy for their cause and would listen to them much more in this scenario.

I know I would.
Life's a journey......so roll down the window and enjoy the breeze.

#367 mat

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 09:38 PM

If there are no shelter space available they can shelter themselves at night, according to the ruling.


The ruling left open a human rights issue on the enforcement of the bylaw. No matter what your, mine, or others, opinion of the matter, it does require a legal hearing. As I posted previously, this will take time - and that does allow the activists a window to push the agenda, and seek an injunction (could go either way). In my mind - a City council, democratically elected, should have the legal edge to interpret the law, and advise the police, on enforcement. The redaction on that - if they are proved wrong, the City will be open to potentially costly lawsuits.

#368 Caramia

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 10:48 PM

The stakes are high either way. If City Council is right, and the ruling is appealed, the activists could face some serious fines or jail time.

In my rose coloured world, City Hall would drop the appeal, the activists would agree to reasonable time to take down tents - Perhaps sundown to sunup rather than 7pm-7am? And no one would press charges or sue anyone.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#369 martini

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 11:24 PM

Caramia,

I wonder if the activists realize that their actions can be harmful to the poor and homeless in Victoria. The food banks and Salvation army are finding shortfalls in donations due to the economic climate and the recession. The last thing we need right now is negative feelings towards those in need of help. Unfortunately, that is what you get when Johnston and his followers camp under the Christmas tree at city hall and snub their fellow citizens and their families. Civil disobedience and activism has its place. However, there is always a public backlash and doing so at Christmas during a charity drive is not a good idea.

Most people know the difference between social activists, with an agenda, and those who are truly in dire straits. These folks will continue to contribute as best they can. But there will be others who may feel frustrated and that their kindness is being taken for granted. They may give less or not at all and this is bad news for everyone. This may not even be a conscious decision. Some may just walk by the "kettle" with the intention of putting something in later and never doing so.

I hope that we have heard the last from Kirsten ,Johnston, Dodds et al for the balance of the year. My other wish is that Victorians continue to support the local charities in the coming months as they have done in years past.


My thoughts and sentiments as well.

#370 Sue Woods

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:16 AM

In my rose coloured world, City Hall would drop the appeal, the activists would agree to reasonable time to take down tents. And no one would press charges or sue anyone.


Does anyone know if the lawyers are doing this pro bono - or if campers are using legal aid? Thats an important thing to know as we ruminate about whether the activists 'might agree to a compromise' so an expensive lawsuit against the city can be diverted.

#371 ted - 3 - dots

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 10:21 AM

Does anyone know if the lawyers are doing this pro bono - or if campers are using legal aid? Thats an important thing to know as we ruminate about whether the activists 'might agree to a compromise' so an expensive lawsuit against the city can be diverted.



---- Irene Flakner ect ... Get's NO MONEY for what they do

The City - lawyer gets paid ....!

( peretual war against the poor ...? priceless...! )


some-where , somebody has to their foot down , and "they" try to stop the Bull-**** ...
( as a person on welfare for the disabled , I have too much to lose to put my foot down )


ted...


Ps, the rent I pay , helps to pay for the City's lawyer ...! grrrrrrrr


( ie: rather than admitt the Charter-Of-Rights takes pressident , the city-lawer
keep's his job , by fighting HOMELESS-PEOPLE ...? ) wow ....!





;{-

.
.
.

thanks to Kristene , Irene , and the rest of the people who ARE citizen's too ...!

sue & carmila , matt
( and I'm sorry if I didn't mention your VV-name , but there is a whole bunch of you that make my city whorth living in )


ie: sure you can make your money , but you have to LIVE some where ....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


--------- bottom - line ...? ---------------

there are a whole bunch of lawyers , who depend of on the citizen's , to support their EFFORTS to create the "check's & Balance's" that keep's them HONEST and worthy of the income that they get ...!


the "spin-off benifit" ,,, ?
is we get a nice place to live ...



wow

#372 hoi polloi

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:27 PM

If there are no shelter space available they can shelter themselves at night, according to the ruling.

If there are shelter spaces available and they choose not to avail themselves of them, they are no longer "shelterless", they are merely petty criminals, and should be treated as such.

Their energies would be much better spent working/volunteering at shelters, soup kitchens, old folks homes, and other various charitable organizations. The general public would have much more sympathy for their cause and would listen to them much more in this scenario.

I know I would.


Simple math-there is not enough shelter or affordable options in Victoria, or other places. Full stop. 'Their energies' appear to be staying on topic, even if they can not actually speak for the diverse homeless population.

The general pop often has no clue what life is like on these bottom rungs. Suggesting homeless do charity work is an interesting concept. If that would garner public sympathy and support, the public needs to give their heads a shake.

#373 Chris J

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:34 PM

Does anyone know if the lawyers are doing this pro bono - or if campers are using legal aid? Thats an important thing to know as we ruminate about whether the activists 'might agree to a compromise' so an expensive lawsuit against the city can be diverted.

The campers are being represented by Irene faulkner, who is doing this pro bono, as she did for the three years she was involved in the charter challenge.

#374 Chris J

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:45 PM

Caramia,

I wonder if the activists realize that their actions can be harmful to the poor and homeless in Victoria. The food banks and Salvation army are finding shortfalls in donations due to the economic climate and the recession. The last thing we need right now is negative feelings towards those in need of help. Unfortunately, that is what you get when Johnston and his followers camp under the Christmas tree at city hall and snub their fellow citizens and their families. Civil disobedience and activism has its place. However, there is always a public backlash and doing so at Christmas during a charity drive is not a good idea.

Most people know the difference between social activists, with an agenda, and those who are truly in dire straits. These folks will continue to contribute as best they can. But there will be others who may feel frustrated and that their kindness is being taken for granted. They may give less or not at all and this is bad news for everyone. This may not even be a conscious decision. Some may just walk by the "kettle" with the intention of putting something in later and never doing so.

I hope that we have heard the last from Kirsten ,Johnston, Dodds et al for the balance of the year. My other wish is that Victorians continue to support the local charities in the coming months as they have done in years past.


We are fully aware that this arguement exists, but is not valid as far as I'm concerned, as a reason to give up one's principles and convictions. This assumption (which has been brought up several times) needs to be seriously challenged. Some people are always going to have a problem with another person's actions. The shelters have done their best to distance themselves from Kristen and David, and so I feel that if someone chooses to stop helping the homeless because of the actions of a handful of homeless people, they are not making a proper decision.
What you suggest has been taken into consideration as one of the reasons to back off, but in the end, it was decided that the harm done by these actions is minimal if at all to the larger homeless population, especially if the bylaw is clarified in the way that we would wish to see it clarified. There is also the arguement that the attention that has been brought to the issue as a result of these arrests has forced the province to put up more money for emergency mats, and has spotlighted the need for action, whether it be volunteering or donating money or challenging the system.
However, this theory is just as untested as hat we are causing harm.

#375 Chris J

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:53 PM

If there are no shelter space available they can shelter themselves at night, according to the ruling.

If there are shelter spaces available and they choose not to avail themselves of them, they are no longer "shelterless", they are merely petty criminals, and should be treated as such.

Their energies would be much better spent working/volunteering at shelters, soup kitchens, old folks homes, and other various charitable organizations. The general public would have much more sympathy for their cause and would listen to them much more in this scenario.

I know I would.


The concept that every homeless person should be funnelled through the dignity robbing shelter system is absurd. Your interpretation of the ruling may or may not be correct, but regardless, a person should have the right to choose whether or not they submit themselves to an institutionalized shelter where they may be in danger. (Someone was murdered in front of Streetlink last night, so you might be able to understand why people avoid these places.)
To say that homeless people who refuse to use a means of support that lacks dignity, privacy, and safety is a petty criminal is bordering on offensive.
I know you read the news. I know that you realize what kind of problem poverty is in this country and how it seems it may get much worse than much better. If you still feel that institutionalizing people for having suffered a set-back in life...I don't even know what to say. It's too offfensive to me...

#376 Chris J

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 01:06 PM

I was in the courtroom yesterday when the judge suggested that the release conditions being offered to Kristen were 'a reasonable compromise.'
Irene made a great case. When the judge wanted to insist that 'temporary' as it is written in the Oct.14 ruling, meant overnight, Irene pointed out that one can not automatically make that assumption, especially since the city used to have a bylaw prohibiting 'temporary shelter at night'. Irene argued that if temporary is meant to mean overnight, then it would be redundant to use temporary and at night in the same sentence.
My take on what happened in court yesterday was that the judge decided that it was not a matter of temporary meaning overnight, but that the city was insisting that it needed to continue to enforce the bylaw in order to maintain public order, and the judge agreed that whether or not the constitutional validity of the bylaw is settled, it is a reasonable thing for the city to ask that Kristen agree to her release conditions.
The judge did not rule that the bylaw was reasonable. Another judge will have to deal with that on December 31. What she agreed was reasonable was that the release conditions the city were asking for were reasonable.

#377 Caramia

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 01:56 PM

What were the release conditions, Chris?

Regarding Roger's point about charity work and Hoi Poloi's rebuttal, many of the homeless and street community ARE volunteers.

Agencies that help these folk are often the gateway to volunteerism. An agency is already a place you belong, so it is a low barrier way to contribute. Some agencies encourage volunteerism among their clients. I absolutely applaud that, as it prevents services from inadvertently teaching helplessness and dependency. Volunteering with the agencies that serve you is a great way to gain back some of that dignity, and it feels good to walk out of a rough patch knowing you gave back. Finally, this helps to build up a resume, and to create transferable skills which can really help get a job later.

But a lot of the volunteer work done by the street community is not something you can put on a resume. Be it social work, food distributing, environmental work, media... there is a huge amount of unpaid activity going on within the street community. And that activity is often the difference between life and death. Most junkies don't detox in detox. Most of them get a room in a friend's basement with someone who will stay up for three days and watch them fight the demons, and bring them fluids and Valerian tea. How much is that kind of social work worth on the open market? When families experience addiction related crises, social services is not the first person to know about it. The first people to see it and step up are often women within the street community who are vigilant about the children's safety. Those are the first responders, the true harm-reduction workers, and are likely to be the ones who takes on the agonizing decision to alert social services or other family members if the situation is bad enough. How much would you charge per hour for that responsibility?
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#378 Chris J

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 04:20 PM

The release conditions were no camping on city property between 7am and 7pm.

#379 Sue Woods

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 05:17 PM

I know that you realize what kind of problem poverty is in this country and how it seems it may get much worse than much better. If you still feel that institutionalizing people for having suffered a set-back in life...I don't even know what to say. It's too offfensive to me...


Poverty does not mean being non-productive. Talk to anyone who lived through the depression in the 20s.
The difference is that there are minimum wage jobs available in Victoria in 2008.

#380 Chris J

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 07:58 PM

Ms. Woods you are right. This is totally not about making assumptions about poverty. Some people can work themselves out of extraordinary positions. Some cannot. The question her is how far, as a society should our compassion extend? Is this purely about survival of the fittest, or are we willing to accept that some people are not able to simply get a job, suck it up, and work through things without intervention on behalf of the community?
The assertion that people SHOULD be able to accept a minimum wage job does not jive with what people are ABLE to do. We also face the bizarre contradiction that minimum wage jobs are often more difficult than higher paying jobs. We can't over-simplify this with a 'get a job' attitude. This is crucial to what I am trying to say.

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