He came to court Wednesday ready to challenge the perceived unfairness of city officials forcing him to mow his boulevard on his own dime and on his own time.
But Island Lakes resident Richard Hykawy's fight against the city bylaw was indefinitely put off to give him a shot at tackling the complex legal procedure involved in making a court challenge based on Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"This is not as simple as producing material before the court and asking the court to deal with it," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Don Bryk told him. "This process is more complicated than you may understand."
Hykawy is representing himself. He's arguing the city is violating his charter rights, saying he's essentially performing illegal "forced labour" by being sanctioned for not mowing the boulevard alongside his Dormer Drive home.
The charter expressly forbids forced labour, he maintains.
After repeatedly fining Hykawy and tacking the fines onto his property-tax bill, the city finally took him to bylaw court.
His challenge of the bylaw breach has set in motion what could be a much longer legal battle for Hykawy than he first envisioned.
In June, the prosecution of the bylaw infraction was put over to allow Hykawy to make the necessary arrangements for a charter challenge. A key condition is informing the federal and provincial governments of his intention, which by Wednesday he had not done. He said he wasn't aware of the requirement.
Bryk noted this, and also said his documents supporting the application were insufficient. "I would suggest that you redo it," Bryk told him.
Bryk warned Hykawy he could be liable for paying the governments' legal bills if he loses.
After court, Hykawy told reporters he was committed to seeing the case through.
The city has no legal arrangement with him to perform free work on the city's behalf, he said.
"I say this is far worse than slavery," he said. "What makes this far worse than slavery is back in the day, slaves were kept. They were clothed, maybe not well; they were fed, maybe not well. But they were provided equipment and given what they needed to provide the work," Hykawy said.
"In the case of the city, we're not clothed, we're not fed, we don't have paid living, and the city isn't offering any tools or utensils or fuel to mow the boulevard, so this is actually worse than slavery," Hykawy said.
Asked if he was serious about equating the abuses of the slave trade and mowing a patch of lawn, Hykawy stood his ground.
"I would say that it equates worse, because I'm not, in fact, being given any provisions for food, for places to sleep or clothes, any utensils to work the land that's not owned by me.
"Yeah, I would say it's not on the grandiose scale of picking cotton for a sharecropper, but the land is not mine."