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Court expected to rule on homeless group suing B.C. city for charter violations

VANCOUVER — British Columbia's Supreme Court is expect to rule today on whether bylaws that ban people from camping in public spaces in Abbotsford, B.C., criminalize the homeless.

A group of homeless people took the Fraser Valley city to court last year, alleging its regulations and harassment tactics violated their charter rights.

The lawsuit also follows incidents when municipal officials dumped chicken manure on a homeless camp and police slashed and pepper sprayed tents elsewhere.

A city lawyer says the local homeless population chooses to sleep outside rather than at available shelter space.

But David Wotherspoon of the Pivot Legal Society — an advocacy organization representing the city's homeless in this case — says its wrong to blame his clients for their circumstances.

A lawyer from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says its the city's responsibility to craft bylaws that respect constitutional rights.

The Canadian Press

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