Some Denied Access To Belongings – Many Have Nowhere To Go
Release – The homeless men and women of the Abbotsford Drug War Survivors (DWS) have done everything within their power to abide by the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s injunction to leave Jubilee Park by 4 pm Saturday and remove the building materials in the wooden structure from the parking lot by 2 pm Monday.
In a confused, mismanaged and incomprehensible breakdown of crisis management the City of Abbotsford and the Abbotsford Police Department failed to provide the promised transportation for our members who left the park to go to the Salvation Army.
As a result most of our members’ personal belongings are now beyond their reach, sitting in the park behind a fence and police officers who will not let anyone into the park. While two of our members found temporary housing through the Elizabeth Fry Society, most of our members have either been left to drift aimlessly without access to their belongings or, in the case of those whose belongings were taken to the Salvation Army, they are not being given access to their belongings unless they move in to the Army’s high barrier shelter.
Homeless people seeking help from the service providers who were temporarily at Jubilee Park Saturday were told there were no services available to anyone other than those known to be protesters from the park.
Those who were not protesters were turned away.
Over three days of private negotiations the City of Abbotsford has proven completely unwilling to discuss our proposal to occupy two or more specific pieces of municipal property where we could build homes out of the building materials in the parking lot.
While the City has agreed to allow us in to dismantle the structure for them and even offered to store it for a short period, the City has shunned our efforts to enter into meaningful dialogue over the ultimate resting place and use for the building materials.
We have repeatedly tried to build on the discussions, already ongoing, over our proposal but the City has steadfastly refused, preferring to force us to remove the structure with no guarantee over the resumption of discussions over our proposal for self-sufficient housing.
It has become apparent to the DWS that the City intends to use the Supreme Court injunctions in order to gain permission to use force against our members and that the City has no intention of entering into any meaningful dialogue over a future in this City for its homeless citizens.
The City appears determined to use its bylaws, its police and now the Supreme Court of British Columbia in order to enshrine the Abbotsford Shuffle as an accepted manner of dealing with the poor and pursue, with the court’s permission, its longstanding war on the homeless in this community.
The DWS would like to thank all those citizens of Abbotsford who have spoken on our behalf, donated food, clothing and support and we hope that, despite the City’s intransigence and unwillingness to move beyond the status quo in Abbotsford, we will all, one day, live in a City where citizens have the same rights as citizens in any other Canadian city.
Press release from Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors