Skip to content
4 min read

Media Release: Kitsilano Coalition Launches Constitutional Challenge to Bill 26

Featured Image

Kitsilano Coalition Launches Constitutional Challenge to Bill 26 to Ensure Access to Courts

Constitutional Lawyers Peter Gall and Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice J. E. Michel Bastarache, to represent Kitsilano Coalition.

(Vancouver, BC) May 25, 2023 – The Kitsilano Coalition has filed proceedings with the BC Supreme Court to challenge the NDP-led BC Government’s Bill 26, on the grounds that it violates the Canadian Constitution. Peter Gall, KC, and former Supreme Court of Canada Justice J. E. Michel Bastarache, CC, KC, both of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP, are representing the Kitsilano Coalition. 

“Bill 26 unlawfully deprives Canadians of their constitutionally-protected access to the courts and usurps the constitutionally-protected jurisdiction and responsibility of our courts to hold public decision-makers accountable and safeguard the rule of law,” stated Gall.   

Kitsilano Coalition spokesperson Karen Finnan states, “Bill 26 targets only the Arbutus and 7th/8th site. The willingness of elected representatives to enact legislation that disregards constitutional rights should alarm every resident of this Province".  Finnan adds, “Today Premier Eby is wielding his legislative powers against Vancouver residents to deny us our constitutionally protected right to challenge the legality of the City’s actions under the Vancouver Charter.  Tomorrow it could be your community, if citizens do not stand up for rights that are foundational in a democratic society,” continued Finnan.

Bill 26 was enacted following a request from the City of Vancouver for the Province to “take whatever legislative steps are necessary” to enable rezoning of the Arbutus and 7th/8th site for up to 129 units of shelter rate housing with a common-use drug consumption room.  The proposed project had been met with overwhelming opposition from the community. 

At the public hearing before City Council, those opposed were prevented from voicing safety concerns for the 450-child elementary school, daycare, and toddler playground, all located within 20-metres of the proposed project, as well as the neighboring supportive recovery home for women fleeing violence. At the conclusion of the public hearing in July 2022, City Council voted in favour of rezoning the site.

In October 2022, the Kitsilano Coalition filed a petition seeking judicial review of the rezoning decision, pointing to serious defects in the public hearing process.  The petition awaits a hearing date in the BC Supreme Court.  

Bill 26 provides that the 2022 public hearing “is conclusively deemed to have been validly held”, effectively stripping the Kitsilano Coalition of the right to have this matter addressed by the courts. Bill 26 received Royal Assent on May 11, 2023.  

About the Kitsilano Coalition

We're a community-based coalition of individuals and organizations that care about their neighborhood and city. The Kitsilano Coalition is focused on promoting and protecting inclusive housing. We believe that residents of neighbourhoods who are affected by policies and plans have the right to be heard. We support open and inclusive policymaking that is evidence-driven and accessible to citizens.

About Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP

Gall Legge Grant Zwack have played an important role in the development of constitutional and administrative law in Canada. Our team includes a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, a former Attorney General of British Columbia, a former Chair of the BC Labour Relations Board, and some of Canada’s leading practitioners in the public law field. We also regularly contribute to the evolution and advancement of public law through our engagement in conferences, academic writing and teaching, in addition to our practice.