West Coast LEAF has been granted leave to intervene in a case that has potential ramifications for all marginalized groups that may need human rights protections.

The ongoing human rights case involves the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and the City of Vancouver and their treatment of people who are homeless in the downtown core of Vancouver. The complaint stemmed directly from attempts by DVBIA workers (known as Downtown Ambassadors) to “remove” this population from public space, including sidewalks and city parks.

This past spring, the BC Supreme Court found that the Downtown Ambassadors program had engaged in discriminatory conduct. West Coast LEAF, in coalition with the Community Legal Assistance Society, intervened in that case to argue that evidence requirements for discrimination cases should not unfairly disadvantage already marginalized people. The DVBIA and the City of Vancouver have now appealed the BC Supreme Court’s decision.

At the BC Court of Appeal, West Coast LEAF, again in coalition with CLAS, intends to argue that it is incumbent upon decision-makers to take a flexible approach to discrimination claims, one that allows for evidence of social context. Not all complainants have equal ability to make a complaint or provide the same level of evidence of discrimination, and these differences must be understood and respected in order for justice to be served.

The outcome of the appeals will have a direct impact on the ability of vulnerable groups to advance claims of systemic discrimination based on law and policy that disproportionately impacts groups afforded protection under human rights law, an issue that is vital to all equality seeking groups.

The appeals are expected to be heard in the BC Court of Appeal in March 2016. To read West Coast LEAF’s argument for leave to intervene, click here.