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Trespass act potentially harms homeless

author: taylor balfour | news writer

Credit: steve baker via flickr

 

The trespass act is a cause for concern for some

Trespassing became a lot harder in Regina after 2015 when the “Trespass Act” came into effect. According to the Regina Police Service and the City of Regina, the act has been seen as a success and has done exactly as they had hoped – kept trespassers at bay.

However, with the announcement of such an act, many were quick to criticize it as an unnecessary hardship added to those living in poverty or on the street. This law has given property owners the chance to “deal with unwanted guests” as the Leader-Post claims.

The reason this law has now been brought into the limelight is due to the reports and stats from 2016 now being released. Since the law’s commencement, RPS reported that they’ve given “651 ban notifications” with 49.4 per cent of those in 2016.

Chief of the Regina Police Service Evan Bray told the Leader-Post that “in many cases, those who are shoplifting are not homeless but have an addiction. Is there an obligation there to help them with their addictions? Absolutely. We also have a responsibility to the business owner and community to ensure it doesn’t happen.”

In Dec. 2015, when the law had been in effect for six months, Peter Gilmer, a veteran member of the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry, spoke to the Leader-Post about the law and the effects it has and will have on the homeless community in the city.

“I think it’s unnecessary. It criminalizes desperate people,” Gilmer claimed.

One of the main arguments to this side is that, if convicted, a person could be facing a $250 fine. If someone is trespassing due to homelessness, it’s money that they don’t have to pay back. In the article Gilmer also acknowledges that there are other laws currently in place to stop individuals from remaining on property if the owners don’t want them there, as given the examples of “public intoxication or minor criminal charges.”

Despite this, not all of the response to this has been negative. Some are for this law. Mayor Michael Fougere earlier this year said that “it is successful,” as Global News Regina reports.

“It is not the only tool in the tool box but you use this act as opposed to charging with criminal activity, which no one wants to do. It’s a way to reduce that impact,” stated Fougere.

On the Regina Police Service’s website, they claim that the initiative “allows businesses to ban individuals who repeatedly cause problems on their property by being intoxicated, harassing customers, shoplifting, panhandling, etc.,” and that it “allows businesses to proactively deal with ongoing problem patrons.”

Despite the backlash on ticketing, CBC Regina reports that out of all of the people who have been banned, only 84 of said cases have resulted in someone being ticketed.

“This is a great way for business owners and police to work together to reduce or eliminate repeat, unwanted guests,” The RPS website claims.

Despite the article from 2015, no one has spoken out after the release of these stats about its effect on the homeless.

 

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