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Abbotsford drug users take city to BC Human Rights Tribunal

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has accepted a human rights complaint from the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors against the City of Abbotsford.

"This is very overwhelming for drug war survivors to receive recognition from the tribunal," says Barry Shantz of the association. "It give us confidence."

The Association of Drug War Survivors is claiming that the city's anti-harm reduction zoning bylaw violates the rights of drug users in the area. The bylaw has been in place since 2005 and prohibits needle exchange and supervised injection sites.

Unless the two parties accept mediation, the complaint will be settled with the court.

"We strongly encourage mediation," says Shantz, "but bringing the marginalized to the table must be done respectfully."

The Fraser Health Authority has presented the Abbotsford mayor and council with plans for harm reduction in the city. It is especially concerned about the prevalence of Hepatitis C in the area. Abbotsford has the third-highest rate of the disease in B.C.

The Pivot Legal Society filed the complaint on behalf of the society on May 21.

Maryse Zeidler is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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