A Trial Seems Inevitable At This Point

By Mike Archer. The City of Abbotsford has reportedly been involved in serious behind-the-scenes discussions since the beginning of January in order to follow through on Council’s direction to staff to explore the possibility of getting out of the law suits in which the City is embroiled with its homeless population.

In three months all that seems to have been accomplished is the addition of a couple of extra porta-potties and two wash stations at the ‘MCC Dignity Village’ protest camp on Gladys Avenue.

Did anyone tell the lawyers there had been a change of plan?

Discussions about moving the men and women – who are living in awful conditions – appear to have gone nowhere. Provisions for beginning a healing process with respect to the way the City, its police force and its service organizations have treated the homeless seem frozen in time.

Management and staff at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) office directly opposite the protest camp drive in to work and home again everyday knowing full well the misery in which the homeless men and women live, yet the MCC has not even agreed to meet to discuss beginning a healing process.

How they manage to drive by the gut-wrenching poverty every day, without agreeing to even discuss doing something about it, is beyond me.

And what of our new Mayor and Council?

Clearly the previous mayor and council directed the law firm representing the City to fight the City’s legal battles against the poor for as long as it takes to either win, lose or have the cases appealed.

Has anybody from the City of Abbotsford actually spoken to the lawyers since the beginning of January? Seriously … has anyone told the lawyers there has been a change of plan? It really doesn’t seem like it.

There are less than three months before the first of three trials begins. It is slated to last six weeks. No matter who wins the other side will appeal and the costly battle will go on for years.

Without leadership from the top it appears inevitable we are headed for a long, costly trial in June and years worth of ongoing, expensive legal maneuvering.

While the City keeps paying lawyers to do its bidding instead of simply telling them we want out of the court battles the misery of the people they are fighting only grows worse.

One of these days, it won’t be a little fire which Mayor Braun has to deal with at a hastily called press conference. One of these days it will be a body bag, and he will be explaining why neither the City, the MCC nor any of the other expensive care organizations which collect and spend millions each year in funding to help the poor, didn’t do a damned thing about it.


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