2009.12.09 - 11:48 PM

Today was a great victory for justice and the rights of people living homeless across Canada. A ruling made by 3 judges from the BC Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling regarding a TENT CITY that had been appealed by the City of Victoria and the BC Attorney General. A key piece of evidence was a video made by Homeless Nation, helped to bring this ruling to a victory on the side of the people.

In short the courts found that people have the right to built basic shelters if forced to sleep outside due to a shortage of shelter beds. Therefore bylaws prohibiting tents, and other forms of shelter infringe upon the rights of all citizens of Canada.


Check out the entire document at:


[75] Third, the homeless represent some of the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society, and the allegation of the respondents in this case, namely that the Bylaws impair their ability to provide themselves with shelter that affords adequate protection from the elements, in circumstances where there is no practicable shelter alternative, invokes one of the most basic and fundamental human rights guaranteed by our Constitution – the right to life, liberty and security of the person. The significance of this was noted by the trial judge (at para. 143), where she quoted the following excerpt from Martha Jackman, “The Protection of Welfare Rights Under the Charter” (1988) 20 Ottawa L. Rev. 257 at 326:

... [A] person who lacks the basic means of subsistence has a tenuous hold on the most basic of constitutionally guaranteed human rights, the right to life, to liberty, and to personal security. Most, if not all, of the rights and freedoms set out in the Charter presuppose a person who has moved beyond the basic struggle for existence. The Charter accords rights which can only be fully enjoyed by people who are fed, are clothed, are sheltered, have access to necessary health care, to education, and to a minimum level of income. As the United Church’s brief to the Special Joint Committee declared: “Other rights are hollow without these rights”.

Reasons for Judgment of the Court:


[1] This appeal addresses a narrow issue: when homeless people are not prohibited from sleeping in public parks, and the number of homeless people exceeds the number of available shelter beds, does a bylaw that prohibits homeless people from erecting any form of temporary overhead shelter at night – including tents, tarps attached to trees, boxes or other structure – violate their constitutional rights to life, liberty and security of the person under s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

[2] This was the question ultimately adjudicated by a Supreme Court justice, following protracted proceedings, after 70 homeless people set up a “tent city” in a public park in the City of Victoria known as Cridge Park. She declared unconstitutional those portions of the City’s parks and streets bylaws that prohibited homeless people who were legally sleeping in parks from erecting temporary overhead shelter in the form of tents, tarps attached to trees, and cardboard boxes. This is the City’s appeal from that order.

[3] The trial judge described the litigation, quoting Senior District Judge Atkins in Pottinger v. City of Miami, 810 F. Supp. 1551 at 1554 (S.D. Fla. 1992), as:

... an inevitable conflict between the need of homeless individuals to perform essential, life-sustaining acts in public and the responsibility of the government to maintain orderly, aesthetically pleasing public parks and streets.

[4] The conflict between “essential, life-sustaining acts” and the “responsibility of the government” aptly focuses the issues in this case. The claims of the homeless people recognized by the trial judge have a narrow compass in absolute terms – they are the right to cover themselves with the most rudimentary form of shelter while sleeping overnight in a public place, when there are not enough shelter spaces available to accommodate all of the City’s homeless. The City, on the other hand, bears the responsibility to the public to preserve public places for the use of all, and of necessity focuses on the wide public impact of any use of public places for living accommodation. The constitutional context applies the most lofty of guaranteed human rights – the rights to life, liberty and security of the person – to the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our society for one of the most basic of human needs, shelter. Thus, though the trial judge’s decision in this case is narrow in scope, it takes on wide meaning and implications for all.

[5] The trial judge declared that the City’s parks and streets bylaws that prohibit homeless people from erecting temporary shelter violate s. 7 and are not “saved” by s. 1 of the Charter, and are “of no force and effect insofar and only insofar as they apply to prevent homeless people from erecting temporary shelter” (at para. 239). The effect of the order is to allow homeless persons to erect temporary overhead shelter while sleeping outside in City parks and streets.

[6] The City claims the trial judge erred in her conclusions that the bylaw provisions violate s. 7 and are not “saved” by s. 1 of the Charter. Its principal argument, however, is that by declaring the bylaw provisions of no force or effect, the trial judge improperly intruded into the City’s legislative jurisdiction to make complex policy decisions concerning the allocation of scarce parkland and other public resources. It argues that the effect of the decision is to require the City to regulate the use of parks for camping or other living accommodation, which elected officials have not chosen to include in the initiatives undertaken to deal with the City’s admittedly serious problem of homelessness.

Victoria (City) v. Adams,

2009 BCCA 563
Date: 20091209
Docket: CA036551

The Corporation of the City of Victoria

Natalie Adams, Yann Chartier, Amber Overall, Alymanda Wawai,
Conrad Fletcher, Sebastien Matte, Simon Ralph,
Heather Turnquist and David Arthur Johnston

The Attorney General of British Columbia

The Honourable Madam Justice Levine
The Honourable Madam Justice Neilson
The Honourable Mr. Justice Groberman

On appeal from the Supreme Court of British Columbia
Victoria Registry,October 14, 2008,
Victoria (City) v. Adams


mavie44 on 2013.09.22

In the growing demands of new technologies right now, secrets are hard to conceal. You can now see instant videos of important events, crimes and even accidents that happen on the road because of high tech cameras installed on highways. - Integrity Spas

Login or register to post comments