Interactive Documentary


Chattel Seizure


Threatening to take a person's possessions is one of the easiest ways to get someone to move along. There is a very old term called 'chattel' which refers to any possessions that are not attached to the person. These 'chattels' can apparently include a pack, a tarp, a blanket, food, and other things that are very necessary for living outside.

According to the definition, the groceries of a person who is waiting for the bus is also 'chattel', as is the knapsack of anyone who is sitting in the park or at the beach. However, the bylaw is not enforced this way. It is used as leverage to make someone move along.

Taking someone's pack or blankets who is living outside is stealing virtually all of their possessions and tools for survival. Police say they use the chattel bylaw to confiscate these possessions as evidence of the crime, and to prevent the continuation of the offense. They are then kept in storage until a trial, which could be months away.