Local advocates for the less fortunate may soon find themselves collecting life jackets.
In a decision made public last week, Superior Court Justice Thomas Carey ruled in favour of the City of Sarnia’s request to gather up all individuals experiencing homelessness in the area and throw them in the St. Clair river.
“It is clear to me that the citizens of Sarnia did good by allowing these homeless people to stay on land for so long, but rules are rules and it does convene a municipal bylaw,” Carey stated.
A group of local advocates had been petitioning city council to allow the homeless individuals to continue to live on solid ground, offering their own property, churches and apartments as a place for them to stay. City council voted against them, citing the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” bylaw that requires lower-class and homeless people to remain hidden from residential neighbourhoods and a petition from an individual who received 250 signatures from local citizens after convincing them that “these people will come for your kids!”
Advocates maintain that civil and human rights of both the homeless and those trying to help them are being violated, but Justice Carey disagrees.
“It is not my opinion that anyone’s rights were violated, but then again, I didn’t actually read the argument presented by the group, that was a lot of pages to read in just a few months.”
Coun. Terry Burrell applauded the decision. “They’ve had their fun, now let’s take care of this problem,” he said.
In Carey’s statement, it was also suggested that the homeless are not thrown into the river before all ice has melted as it could make it easier for them to climb out of the river, and that they should learn how to not rely on others.