VANCOUVER - Tickets issued in the Downtown Eastside during a blitz last December will not be recalled, the Vancouver Police Department has decided.
At last month’s meeting of the Police Board, the overseeing body of the VPD, members of Pivot Legal Society, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, and the Portland Hotel Society asked the board to consider retracting over 1000 tickets issued during a period of less than two months for small infringements such as jaywalking and illegal vending in the impoverished Vancouver neighbourhood.
The organizations argued that the ticketing in the area was disproportionate to the numbers of tickets issued elsewhere in the city, and that it penalized residents of the area who could not afford to pay the fines. They recommended several alternative measures that could be taken to improve safety in the area without criminalizing people.
At last month’s meeting, Police Chief Jim Chu said he would take the groups’ concerns into serious consideration and address them after significant discussions. VPD spokesperson Jana McGuiness said the discussion would continue at the next board meeting, which was scheduled to happen yesterday.
The board meeting, however, was canceled because quorum could not be reached. Instead, Pivot Legal received a letter last week from Chief Chu stating that the decision to recall a ticket is not in the jurisdiction of the Vancouver Police.
“Once a ticket is lawfully issued, any decision to proceed or not with the prosecution is not a decision for the Vancouver Police,” the letter stated. “Charge assessment and approval are the sole purview of the City of Vancouver Bylaw Prosecutor, who is guided by the provisions in the Provincial Crown Counsel Policy Manual.”
Chu also recommended that “anyone who received a ticket and wishes to dispute it contact the Provincial Court Registry or the Dispute Office to set a court date.”
While the letter also stated that the VPD is interested in “any suggestion that can improve pedestrian and vehicular safety” on the Downtown Eastside, the suggestions brought forward at the June meeting were not mentioned.
McGuiness said that the ideas brought forward were positive ones, but added that while the VPD is open to discussion about potential solutions, the implementation would actually have to come from the city.
“We could be at the table, but we’d need they city at the table as well,” she said. She was unaware if the potential solutions would be brought up at the next police board meeting.
The next Police Board meeting will take place September 16. The location has not yet been announced.
Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee