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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Evolve Postering Charges Dropped

city says "no reasonable prospect of conviction"

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2011 at 9:52 AM


HRM Courts are not pursuing the case against Evolve Festival organizer Jonas Colter involving $4,500 worth of postering charges.
In an email to the Honorable Judge William Digby, copied to Colter’s lawyer Gordon Allen, the Municipal Prosecutor’s Office wrote yesterday that “there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on the charges before the court.” The case was originally intended to go to court Friday May 13.

During last July’s Evolve festival, Colter was arrested and fined 18 tickets at $250 each for 400 Evolve posters that had been placed in several Halifax neighbourhoods. The charges cited that Colter had violated HRM’s temporary signs bylaw by not using designated kiosks. Allen heard about the charges through a mutual friend and contacted Colter, asking to represent him in the case and offering his services for free. “Freedom of expression is near to my heart,” says Allen. “The exchange of ideas is how we advance. Whenever there’s something limiting that, it causes me some concern.”

Allen had originally intended to argue that the charges restricted Colter’s Charter right to freedom of expression. In an interview prior to the dismissal, he cited two examples of case law that established postering as a protected form of expression - Ramsden v. Peterborough in 1993 and R. v. Singh in 2010.

“I would have liked to see a ruling on this by-law,” Allen admitted yesterday in an email. “Hopefully the city will take heed and there won’t any tickets issued under this by-law in respect to posters.”

This year’s Evolve Festival is taking place July 22 — 24 and you can expect to see posters going up soon.

For a more thorough rundown of this postering bylaw and Colter's case, please see this excellent article by Hilary Beaumont.

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