Lawyers representing a BC Liberal government social housing agency were in the Court of Appeal in Vancouver on Monday, June 7, 2004 to appeal a BC Supreme Court decision ordering them to pay $100 each in court costs to forty homeless people who occupied the abandoned Woodward’s building in September 2002.

In a factum filed with the Court, the lawyers for the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation argued that the award “was unjust because it penalizes an innocent party who only sought to protect its property rights.” Lawyers for the defendants countered by pointing out that the homeless were never convicted of anything and that “all citizens, even homeless ones, enjoy the presumption of innocence.” They sought to uphold the award, made because the provincial government dropped civil proceedings at the last moment, thereby inconveniencing the defendants and their lawyers.

“I wonder how much BC taxpayers have paid government lawyers to pursue this case in the province’s highest court for the last year and a half”, mused defence lawyer Cameron Ward. “I’ll bet it’s substantially more than $4,000.” After hearing oral submissions, the three Court of Appeal justices reserved decision. Arguments were later made in two separate appeals brought against the injunctions that resulted in the eviction of homeless squatters from the Woodwards building and adjacent sidewalks. Judgment was reserved in those cases also.