Abbotsford’s Homelessness Problem Is Not Complex At All Deb

By Mike Archer. Why is it that the Abbotsford News seems to feel it has an obligation to make those who are responsible for some of the most atrocious decisions, ideas, plans and events in our city’s history, and who have put our city on the map as one of the most poorly run cities in the province, feel better about themselves?

The world has seen into the real character of the City of Abbotsford and the Salvation Army through the story, revealed by Abbotsford Today, of the poisoning of homeless people with chicken feces by City workers June 4th.

The poisoning happened after the City checked with the Sally Ann and was told the Sally Ann was in agreement with the decision to poison the homeless.

This weekend the News ran a story entitled ‘Needs of the homeless are complex” in which it quotes Deb Lowell, the Sally Ann’s PR flack, saying that it is complicated coming up with solutions for the homeless and promising that she and her religious organization will be with these people every step of the way.

Who does Lowell or the News think they are kidding?

Where were you on June 4th when the City asked if you were in agreement with their plan to poison the ones across the street Deb?

We can’t just keep closing our eyes and ears to the truth in this community just because some people in positions of authority are, so we’ve been told, nice people. As a community we have to learn to face the truth; face the nice people in our community who have been responsible for doing some pretty awful things and ask them why, and stop sticking our heads in the sand when things happen some of us would rather not talk about.

Fixing the homeless crisis in Abbotsford is certainly a PR problem for the Sally Ann and the City of Abbotsford but not for the rest of us? Why does the News seem to think it is their job to help the Sally Ann and the City fix their tarnished images by swallowing, hook, line and sinker, and republishing statements like, “The needs of the few individuals who are residing across the street are complex. Our outreach team, our psychiatric nurse have all been attending to their needs.”

Stay away from them. They’ve had enough of your ‘help.’ You forfeited your right to help them when you agreed to their poisoning.

The only thing that makes the problems of the people currently camped out under the Honey Tree complex is the fact that there are points of view, beliefs and well-entrenched organizations within the power structure of Abbotsford which depend on public money being spent in a certain way – a way that does not include helping those we keep chasing around town.

Unless and until we get that truth out in the open and ask why, we won’t put a dent in this growing blemish on the character of our city.

One of the reasons we have such an unmanageable homeless situation in Abbotsford is that the Sally Ann, which, receives the lion’s share of the funding in Abbotsford, turned its back on the many of the homeless before the bright lights of international media coverage were added to the equation. Ask our provincial politicians like Mike de Jong why that is.

Simply put – there’s no money left over to help those who either can’t or don’t want to buy into the Sally Ann’s Christian conversion program or its refusal to help people with drug and liquor issues.

The City is then left to decide what to do about the rest of the homeless, and with the Sally Ann’s agreement, we’ve seen what their help looks like. Ask politicians like John Smith and Simon Gibson why there are only certain kinds of our fellow citizens they will allow to be helped.

Mayor Banman and Deb lowell during the forced evacuation of the homeless from their camp on Gladys Avenue to their other camp on Gladys Avenue

Mayor Banman and Deb lowell during the forced evacuation of the homeless from their camp on Gladys Avenue to their other camp on Gladys Avenue

The Salvation Army and the City of Abbotsford have used up all their mulligans on this issue. Neither organization can or should be trusted with the question of the what to do with the homeless, the drug victims or the poor in this city. Nor should they be receiving the public’s money to solve a problem they have shown neither the ability or the willingness to solve, other than in the manner with which we are now all too familiar.

Both organizations have shown themselves to be heartless, cruel and and untrustworthy when given our trust. Neither deserves credit for their foxhole conversation to caring while the cameras are on. Banman and Lowell were very prominent standing around doing nothing during the forced evacuation of the homeless last Thursday, taking advantage of the media throng to get there concerned faces captured for the news.

Great PR for the two organizations which have been distorting the treatment of the homeless for years using their friends’ and neighbours’ money to advance an agenda that doesn’t look very nice when it leads to the events of June 4th.

When the Abbotsford News decides to help Deb Lowell and Bruce Banman try to salvage the reputations of their organizations, assuage their guilt, or perhaps protect their funding, by giving voice to the notion that it is a very ‘complex’ endeavour to have to show human care and compassion to your fellow citizens, it simply perpetuates the myth that we should all just look the other way and allow them to do their job in the warped and dangerous manner in which they have grown accustomed to doing it.

We’ve seen how they do their job and, with any luck, the mounting number of court cases seeking basic human rights protection for Abbotsford’s homeless will force organizations like the City of Abbotsford and the Salvation Army to stop abusing them in our name and with our money.

There aren’t different kinds of Abbotsford citizens with different kinds of rights when it comes to health care, protection from police brutality, basic civil rights or assistance with mental health, addiction and substance abuse problems. We are all Canadian citizens and entitled to the same protections under the law and the constitution.

Until the Sally Ann and the City of Abbotsford can show they have anything better to offer the community and its homeless citizens – something more than shuffling them back to the scene of the crime – they don’t deserve to be treated with the kid gloves with which The News appears to be treating them as they make every attempt to re-brand themselves as compassionate organizations.

It isn’t complex at all Deb. For starters, just stop ‘helping’ the mentally ill, the drug addicted and the poor with a billy club and a bucket of chicken shit. Then maybe someone provide us with an answer to the question ‘where?’ before the next time you tell them they have to move on.

Photos by Bas Stevens

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • kagey1 says:

    Sorry, Bas, I respect you and your right to voice your opinion, but here’s what I see. The print media seems to be attempting to pacify the masses, Abbotsford Today seems focused on inflaming the masses. Does anybody out there have any ideas to help change the situation? Anyone?

    • chanteledelaine says:

      In respect to the “Happy Tree” camp, the City is dealing with a sub-segment of the Homeless population which actively refuses to live indoors (the camp leader still accepts those government cheques, though).

      So yes, we are indeed dealing with a complex situation.The Civic Arm of the community must balance the needs of the Happy Tree Campers against the needs of the business community and the other residents of Abbotsford. It’s tough job, to be sure.

      To give the City and the widerCommunity a fair shake, take a look at some of the things which *are* being done.Take a look at all the sectors involved in trying to find a solution. Things aren’t as black and white as you might think they are:

Leave a Reply