If Falun Gong protest signs outside the Chinese consulate can't be regulated by the City of Vancouver, then no structures on city streets can be regulated, the city's lawyer told a judge Monday.
"If the respondents are correct, the city is powerless to regulate," lawyer Tom Zworski told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein.
Zworski said the city has met with local Falun Gong representatives to seek a compromise, but the 20-metre-long plywood signs and a hut placed on city property outside the consulate have not been removed.
"This is not a case of the city using its powers in some draconian way," Zworski said. "The city attempted to reach a compromise to the satisfaction of everyone."
Vancouver is not trying to limit the right to protest or freedom of expression, he said.
"What this petition is about is the structures, not the protests or the signs."
The protest signs were erected in July 2001 at 3380 Granville. Mayor Sam Sullivan first ordered the structure -- a plywood fence bearing the signs, and a small plywood shelter -- to be dismantled in 2006, saying it was built without permission and encroaches on the city sidewalk.
The city wants an injunction to remove the signs and protest hut, which is occupied 24 hours a day, after receiving complaints about the structures, Zworski said.
City officials have met several times with Falun Gong supporters to discuss the issue, he said.
But local Falun Gong spokeswoman Sue Zhang, a respondents in the city's legal action, said Falun Gong supporters thought they'd reached an acceptable compromise.
"We got a phone call from the city thanking us for our cooperation," Zhang said outside court, adding that city officials never stressed the need for permission.
(Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, November 4, 2008)
Original text from: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=28c9ab53-e325-49cd-92ed-d93614e48b34