Taming Disorderly People One Ticket at a Time: The Penalization of Homelessness in Ontario and British Columbia



Catherine T. Chesnay, Céline Bellot, Marie-Ève Sylvestre

Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice

April 2013






In the last two decades, provincial and local governments in Canada took a new series of measures to regulate urban disorder and control how public spaces were used by homeless people. Ontario became the first province to adopt new legislation with the passage of the Safe Streets Act, 1999. British Columbia soon followed the same path and enacted its own Safe Streets Act in 2004. This article focuses on the enforcement of the Safe Streets Act in Ontario and BC. Using quantitative data on tickets delivered to homeless people, it examines the extent of the penalization of homeless populations and establishes trends in the application of these statutes in both provinces. It concludes that the application reflects tensions around the visibility of homeless people in public spaces, particularly relating to squeegeeing, in both Ontario and British Columbia.






Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee