The Effect Bylaw Enforcement has on Calgary's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness

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In 2008, the City of Calgary was the first Canadian city to implement a 10-year plan to end homelessness and the city has since been regarded as a Canadian leader in the effort to end homelessness. This report will address whether bylaws or enforcement methods affect Calgary's effort to end homelessness. Does the enforcement of bylaws create a cycle of jail and shelter usage that is difficult for many homeless individuals to escape? Does the current enforcement method create an economic burden for taxpayers or prevent the success of the Calgary 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness? According to the City of Calgary, "bylaws are created as a way to address issues and concerns of the local community. They are created to protect the environment, public health, public safety, or to maintain an orderly appearance in your community and city" (The City of Calgary, 2012). The City of Calgary must enforce bylaws in a way that serves both Calgary's housed and homeless citizens. The enforcement of bylaws is expected to preserve the quality of life and economic interests for Calgary's housed citizens, while at the same time respecting the rights of homeless individuals and assisting them in getting off the street. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the current bylaw enforcement approach in Calgary and to assess to what extent the current method affects Calgary's 10-year Plan to End Homelessness. This report will address how the City of Calgary balances the interests of various stakeholders; those interested in how bylaws are enforced and those interested in how the homeless are supported. The report will describe how in an attempt to balance the interests of stakeholders the City of Calgary is inadvertently creating a cycle of jail, and shelter usage amongst homeless people. The first section of the report will discuss why bylaw enforcement is necessary to control certain homeless behaviours. Specific discussion of Calgary's Public Behaviour and Panhandling bylaws and Calgary's law enforcement agencies will be included. The second section of the report will discuss what happens when law enforcement leads to ticketing of homeless people, and what happens when tickets lead to court appearances and time spent in custody. The third section of the report will discuss how homeless people return to the street once they are released from custody. This section will represent the end/start of the jail and shelter usage cycle. Each section will include some discussion of the social and economic costs and benefits associated with the enforcement of bylaws in the City of Calgary.
Hutton, Sarah. (2012). The Effect Bylaw Enforcement has on Calgary's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from