B.C. homeless people's advocate Barry Shantz identified as man shot dead by RCMP officer in Lytton

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      A man who won a landmark court victory for the homeless in 2015 is the same person who died in an officer-involved shooting two weeks ago in the B.C. Interior.

      On January 13, Barry Shantz was pronounced dead at the scene at a home in Lytton after being shot by an officer shortly after 2 p.m.

      According to the Independent Investigations Office Of B.C., an RCMP emergency response team was on the scene following reports of shots being fired.

      The IIO has not identified him by name, but friends have told media outlets that Shantz is the dead man.

      Kamloops This Week reported that court documents identified him as "Howard Schantz:, though he's also known as "Barry Schantz". He was a cofounder of a peer-support group called the B.C.–Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors.

      On the Pivot Legal Society website, lawyer DJ Larkin credits Shantz and the association for proceeding with a charter challenge in 2015 on behalf of homeless Abbotsford residents being persecuted by the local government.

      "The case is groundbreaking: never before has a group of homeless Canadians been able to challenge the constitutionality of their treatment and displacement by a city’s staff and police," Larkin wrote. "The Court would never have had the opportunity to hear this case were it not for the courage and determination of Pivot’s clients, Barry Shantz and the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors (DWS)."

      In this case, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson struck down a city bylaw banning homeless people from erecting temporary shelters without permits and for sleeping or staying in city parks overnight.

      The city had sought damages against Shantz, who organized a tent city at Abbotsford's Jubilee Park, according to the ruling.

      That came after the city had dumped chicken manure on another tent city known as the Happy Tree Avenue Camp.

      "The Jubilee Park tent camp was a protest camp in response to the treatment of the City’s homeless and considered as such by the City," Hinkson wrote. "It was designed at least in part to pressure the City into establishing a 'dignity village' and occupied by a number of people identified as being homeless and in need of shelter, housing and services."

      The chief justice acknowledged that while Shantz trespassed on Jubilee Park, he wasn't the only person to do so.

      "I have concluded that the City has not established its claim for damages against Mr. Shantz," Hinkson ruled. "While Mr. Shantz agreed that the City spent the funds it alleges, he did not admit the reasonableness of those expenditures, or his responsibility for them.

      "I find that the City has not established that the expenditures claimed were reasonably related to the Jubilee Park encampment or what portion, if any, resulted from Mr. Shantz’s conduct, and accordingly, I dismiss the City’s claim for damages against Mr. Shantz."

      Transcript from Shantz's examination for discovery

      Below is a transcript of Shantz's responses in an examination for discovery, which were entered into the court record in the 2015 court case:

      Question: And tell me about that. How is it that you became aware that the wooden structure was going to be erected?

      Shantz: My—my involvement in outreach familiarity with this population of people caused many instances of loved ones looking for daughters, looking for mothers, looking for sons, for reasons from "Please come home" to "We got a bed in a treatment centre." And so people from different places would come to the area and they—people would tend to point them toward me and I would help them locate people. One such event or one such circumstance—like that caused a degree of compassion towards the struggle that people on the streets were having and people were, no pun intended, coming out of the woodwork to offer different types of support all the way from blankets to what can we do to help make them safer? So one particular individual brought somebody that had bigger pockets, and then he did, and they said "What can we do to help?" And I said "The problem is, is that they keep kicking us out everywhere and there's nowhere for everybody to go." And one of the constants of what has become known as "the Abbotsford shuffle" is that you get evicted from—well, even that particular parking lot. Roy has been evicted from one corner of the parking lot to the other corner of the parking lot to the other corner of the parking lot to the other corner. So it stood to reason that we may as well do a—another Abbotsford shuffle from the park into the parking lot to be in compliance with the injunction and to go to another location.

      If you remember the weather was very, very cold. Heavy, heavy wind. Even some snow and stuff like that. So the logistical complications of creating a safe environment on a flat tarmacked surface is very problematic. So I had some thoughts with attaching to the concrete barriers for structural strength and the gentleman that had larger pockets said "What if I prefab the walls and made a wall..."—I said "We got no money." He says "Take —"

      Question: Sorry. Who was the gentleman with larger pockets?

      Shantz: All I know is Paul.

      Question: Paul. Where did you meet him?

      Shantz: I met him on the day of this conversation that we're discussing.

      Question: Okay.

      Shantz: The gentleman who brought him I was more familiar with, because he's associated with an AA/NA type of organization and repeatedly he would come to the neighbourhood looking for so and so or looking for so and so.

      Question: Sorry. What is AA/NA?

      Shantz: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous. So it's like a religious based—religious abstinence based programming. So his enthusiasm to want to help caused him to bring somebody who had deeper pockets. And this gentleman said "What if I put a wall up, wall up, wall up?" I said "We got no money." He said that he can take it out of the ingredients. I said "It would be perfect." He said "Done."

      Question: Do you recall when this occurred when you had this meeting?

      Shantz: Days before the situation, the injunction to move. The whole thing transpired within days.

      Question: So when you say days are you talking about 2 days? 10 days?

      Shantz: I would believe it would be more like let's say 5, 6, 7, 8. I have no record of this, but logistically there was a bit of time purchasing material, prefabbing, doing stuff like that I know it wasn't overnight. I know it wasn't 2 or 3, but 7 maybe.