A woman fined by the City of Oshawa for giving food and other necessities to the homeless is fighting her $250 ticket, saying she won’t be “bullied.”
As True North reported last month, bylaw enforcement officers with the City of Oshawa told Ashley Wickett to scrap her planned Christmas Stockings for the Homeless event at the city’s downtown Memorial Park.
Organizer Ashley Wickett was told by the City that any distribution of goods in a city park required a permit, though she was offered no path to get one. She said she would remain on the sidewalk or hand out the stockings from her car to comply with the bylaw, but she was then told this would violate the highway vending bylaw.
“At this time you may not proceed with your proposed event,” the subsequent email from a bylaw enforcer said. “If you wish to contribute to the less fortunate, particularly around this time of year, there are a number of established charities and shelters in the area who would no doubt benefit from your compassion and initiative.”
Wickett and her volunteer group, Communities for Freedom, proceeded with their Dec. 18 event and handed out sandwiches, juice, clothing items and toiletries to about 50 homeless and needy people.
City vehicles were seen driving around taking photos and videos during the event, though bylaw officers didn’t intervene. Days later, however, Wickett was emailed a $250 ticket for allegedly violating the city’s highway vending bylaw.
On Jan. 24, Wickett will be fighting the ticket at Oshawa’s city hall. Communities for Freedom is hosting a rally in support of her.
The City of Oshawa’s head of bylaw enforcement did not respond to several requests for comment from True North.
“I won’t be bullied into just paying it,” Wickett told True North.
Wickett noted that there was a church-affiliated group doing something similar at the park that didn’t appear to attract the ire of bylaw enforcers.
While Communities for Freedom isn’t political, its members met during the Freedom Convoy last year in Ottawa. Wickett suspects this may be why her group has wound up in the City of Oshawa’s crosshairs.
Wickett said she isn’t letting the event deter her from continuing to help the needy.
“I won’t stand down,” she said. “I will help who I want when I want.”