A Well-Orchestrated Removal Of An Annoying Problem In Banman’s War On The Homeless
By Mike Archer. When Mayor Bruce Banman said that the City had learned from its experience with the last major Abbotsford Shuffle – the forced removal of the homeless camp in Jubilee Park on Christmas Eve – he wasn’t kidding.
Today’s evacuation of the homeless camps along Gladys Avenue, including the ‘Happy Tree’ where Banman’s staff used chicken feces during the world famousChicken Manure Incident in 2013, is a well-orchestrated planned event with every route of escape blocked for the men and women whop are being evacuated.
The City of Abbotsford has quietly erected ‘No Trespassing’ signs on every piece of municipal property from the park at the corner of Gladys and George Ferguson Way all the way down to the other side of the BC Hydro lands so that those being evacuated have nowhere in the immediate area to go without opening themselves up to criminal charges for trespassing.
It appears to be a significant escalation in Mayor Banman’s war on the homeless. Since the City’s Anti Homeless Bylaws are under threat in the BC Supreme Court due to a series of law suits by the Abbotsford chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS), and since the cost of disobeying a bylaw is much less than that of disobeying a No Trespassing order, Banman appears intent on removing the homeless from the downtown area – where all of the services they require have been located by the City – once and for all.
While both the Salavation Army and the 5 and 2 Ministries have been engaged to find homes for the those in the camps – those the Sally Ann and other caregivers will not house due to behavioural problems associated with mental illness, alcohol addiction or drug addiction – the City of Abbotsford seems to have devoted all of its energies and spending all of our money battling its most vulnerable citizens with laws, bylaws, lawyers and cops instead of finding them homes.
The S and 2 Ministries, while it is a wonderful organization which tries its best to feed as many of the homeless as it can and help them in anyway it can, is not a housing organization with either the staff, the funding or the expertise at solving a housing crisis the size of the one Abbotsford faces. To put this all on them is ludicrous and can only be described as a PR stunt designed to fool a judge in Vancouver into believing the City is actually doing something.
The Salvation Army, which knew about and approved of the use of chicken feces in the last evacuation of the camps at the Happy Tree, has stated publicly that Abbotsford does not have enough shelter space to house its growing homeless population.
As an organization which has neither the amount of space needed nor the willingness or ability to house or help the most un-housable of Abbotsford’s homeless population – those who do not conform to their narrow religious views or who have habits of which the Sally Ann disapproves – is the last organization which should be tasked with finding a solution. Nobody on the street trusts them and they can’t solve the problem anyway.
The luke warm support being given by politicians, including Banman, to the one concrete solution on the table – the Valley Road village proposed by the Abbotsford Dignitarian Society and funded by the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA), is concerning since those intent on building the camp are serious about making it work. If Banman’s and other politician’s mediocre support is an indication of how likely Valley Road is to progress, then the level of cynicism and cold, calculated Machiavellian strategy in his war on the homeless will hit even higher levels.
It all points to a massive attempt to fool the public and the Supreme Court into believing that the City, which simultaneously claims it can’t do anything about homelessness and is doing something about homelessness, is merely acting out a sick and expensive bit of theatre which amounts to simply cleansing the downtown core of what it considers to be an inconvenient side effect of it’s massive incompetence.
The fact that his ‘Task Force on Homelessness’ chose today, of all days, to hold its latest meeting, completely oblivious to what was happening down on Gladys Avenue, speaks volumes about how out of touch the Task Forces Chairs – John Smith and Patricia Ross – are with the people they are ostensibly getting paid to protect and help.
Short Summary of Abbotsford’s Homeless Crisis:
First came John Smith’s announcement to the national media that he had instructed the APD to handle homelessness in downtown Abbotsford; then the Abbotsford Shuffle – otherwise known as Chief Bob Rich’s “disperse and displace” strategy for solving homelessness; then Mayor Banman’s Chicken Manure Incident (first revealed on Abbotsford Today); then there was the Standoff in Jubilee; followed by the ‘MCC Dignity Village‘ protest camp on Gladys Avenue and the gathering of more and more of Abbotsford’s homeless to the security of living with others and out in the open in the growing size and number of camps across from the Salvation Army and along Gladys Avenue.
Along the way a few embarrassing revelations were uncovered and published by Abbotsford Today including
the fact that the Salvation Army knew about and was in agreement with the use of chicken feces to encourage the homeless to move from their camp across the street from the Sally Ann; and the rude and demeaning emails shared by police chief Bob Rich and his senior staff after the Chicken Manure Incident went worldwide.