Vision says homeless shouldn't be ticketed for breaking the law

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

1 comment

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Vancouver councillors want to eliminate over 1000 tickets issued to homeless and marginalized people

If you were homeless and recently broke the law in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a number of Vision councillors are working to write off your ticket. In addition, Council is also looking at restricting the future issuance of tickets for a variety of infractions. At least that's what Jeff Lee of the Vancouver Sun appears to be reporting this evening.

This afternoon, about 50 activists showed up to disrupt the regular council meeting to complain that the Vancouver Police Department have issued over 1000 tickets to homeless people living in the Downtown Eastside. The activists claim the tickets should be written off given the recipients were poor and homeless.

According to the Sun, Councillor Kerry Jang and Mayor Meggs met with the protesters and agreed they would lobby the attorney-general's office after they get a legal opinion from city staff on how the tickets can be wiped out.

Ann Livingston, a long-time activist told the Vancouver Sun:

How is a homeless person who is now receiving demand notices for $250-$350 supposed to cope, even on an emotional level?

As for Councillor Jang, the man the Mayor appointed to lead the HEAT shelter fiasco, he stated:

We need a bit of time. We want to get it right so it doesn’t happen again.

Downtown Eastside advocates have long advocated that poor, marginalized and homeless people should not be issued tickets for a variety of "minor" violations such as jaywalking, littering or riding a bicycle on a sidewalk.

1 Comment

Poverty is not an excuse to break the law. A blanket write-off of all tickets sounds a lot like a statement that lawlessness is acceptable, that the DTES exists outside the rule of law, and that we do not consider those who exist there as citizens with both rights and responsibilities. Let the individual ticket recipients claim inability to pay, or stick with what I assume is the status quo - making little effort to actually collect on the tickets. Don't perpetuate learned helplessness.

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