The City of Vernon’s proposal to ban shopping carts on public lands has drawn the ire of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA).
Vernon council voted to support and expand the recommendation of its Activate Safety Task Force to ban shopping carts, indicating that “direction in regard to shopping carts will be brought back to council within the next month for consideration and endorsement.”
BCCLA sent a letter to Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund and city councillors, urging them to abandon the proposal due to its “flagrant targeting of Vernon’s homeless residents.”
“It is senseless and cruel to deprive people of access to public spaces simply because they are using a shopping cart,” said BCCLA staff counsel Meghan McDermott.
“We know that Vernon shelters are at capacity, so such a measure will impair peoples’ ability to make a temporary shelter when their only option is to sleep outdoors.
“For many people without a home, the use of a shopping cart provides a means to carry supplies to set up a crude form of temporary shelter.”
The letter points out that the various rationales that have been provided for the new bylaw are not sufficient to justify the infringements of people’s rights to liberty and security of the person as enshrined in section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Reached over lunch Thursday, Mund said he’s read the letter and will let administration to take it to the city’s legal counsel.
“At the same time, I do believe our administration has taken the recommendations to legal counsel to see how, if we can produce a bylaw through council’s resolution of banning shopping carts.”
Information will be brought to Vernon council for its Sept. 4 meeting.
“I’m sure we’ll get lots of feedback, both from legal and administration on a go-forward basis,” said Mund.
An Armstrong woman started a GoFundMe campaign to buy wagons for Vernon’s homeless. Sarah Anderson’s goal was $1,000 to buy 15 wagons.
Her campaign, to date, has raised $1,800.