Oct 21/ 2014 – 05:15 – By Mike Archer. Abbotsford’s homeless protesters woke up at 5:00 am to City crews and police who were sent in to take the remainder of the protester’s prefabricated cabins and wood from the ‘MCC Dignity Village protest camp on Gladys Avenue.
Officers from the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) were on the scene threatening protesters with arrest unless they stood down and allowed City workers to take back the wood, which belongs to the Drug War Survivors (DWS), and was being used to set up cabins to protect against the winter weather.
On Monday the City clashed with protesters after members of the DWS had retrieved the wood, which was being stored in the City of Abbotsford’s public works yard, and begun erecting small cabins in the camp. After forcing their way into the camp, City workers managed to get almost half of the DWS’s wood before retiring for the night when protesters climbed on top of their wood to keep the City from getting anymore of it.
Protesters were told to expect the City forces back in the morning.
The City of Abbotsford, the APD are defending themselves against several law suits from the DWS over the City’s use of chicken feces to control its homeless population and arguing that the City’s Anti-Homeless Bylaws are illegal.
After months of delaying and raising of objection after objection, on September 29 the City’s legal maneuvering was rejected by the Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court who ruled that the case should go ahead.
As of 5:15 no arrests had been made but the protesters were refusing to give up their wood.
Watch for updates as they occur.
Abbotsford Homeless Hunker Down For The Night After Standoff With City
Oct 20/ 2014 – 22:24 –Homeless People Building Themselves Homes With Their Own Wood – City Moves In To Stop Them.
By Mike Archer. Homeless men and women in the Drug War Survivors (DWS) protest camp in Abbotsford are expecting another showdown with City workers Tuesday morning over the cabins they erected Monday with their own building materials.
The idea was to expand the Drug War Survivors’ (DWS) MCC Dignity Village protest camp, and provide some cold weather shelter for those living there, on the one-year anniversary of what has become the longest protest in BC history.
All photos by Bas Stevens
Barry Shantz, head of the DWS, drove to the public works yard this morning to pick up his organizations’ wood and deliver it to the protest site opposite the new Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) building on Gladys Avenue.
After getting two of the small cabins built, DWS members were surprised to see a City truck show up with a crane to take all their materials back.
The City crew managed to take almost half of the DWS’ material from them by force but several DWS members including Calvin Pete climbed onto the remaining pile and defied City workers to take the wood with him on it.
Five undercover police cruisers showed up but when they were challenged by Shantz to come up with a law which was being broken, they beat a hasty retreat.
City workers eventually left and this evening DWS members built two more cabins in the freezing rain.
“Imagine that – we’re using our own wood to build ourselves some small cabins to protect ourselves from the winter weather while we wait for the City to come to its senses,” says Shantz adding, “None of these people have anywhere else to go. The APD knows it; the Sally Ann and the emergency shelters know it; the BC Supreme Court knows it. Everybody seems to know it except Bruce Banman and the City of Abbotsford.”The wood for the cabins belongs to the DWS and has been sitting in the City of Abbotsford’s public works yard since the fortress in the parking lot beside the Jubilee Park protest camp was dismantled, as a result of a court injunction for which the City of Abbotsford applied, on Christmas Eve 2013.
The wood for the fortress was, in fact, prefabricated pieces for the cabins the DWS was hoping to erect on properties within the railway corridor which had been proposed by Chad Brechin, of Integrity Design of Abbotsford, and Barry Shantz, head of the DWS.
That proposal, which was initially greeted by senior planning staff as ‘refreshing’ and ’eminently doable’ has been languishing in the backwoods of the City’s planning department while the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association’s (ADBA) plan to move the homeless out to Valley Road has been fast tracked with the help of Bruce Banman’s political henchman Paul (No-Permit-Paul) MacLeod who helped kill the BC Housing/ACS Supportive Housing project.
“The plan all along was to use the wood from the fortress to build housing for these people and help them build a safe place to live and work,” says Shantz.
“The City of Abbotsford has delayed the law suits in the BC Supreme Court for months forcing us into another winter on the streets,” says Shantz. “At least they could let us use our own cabins to get through the winter instead of forcing us to get through in tents and lean-tos,” he says.
Watch for updates as they occur.
Bas is the owner and photographer at MonoPod Photography.
You can follow Bas on Facebook where he publishes many of his photos.
To see more of Bas’ photos on Abbotsford Today click here
To see Bas’ photos of the homeless during Moving Day On Gladys Avenue click here
Bas Stevens lives in downtown Abbotsford and shares the neighbourhood just as readily with his neighbours with homes as he does with the homeless, the drug addicted and others who are down on their luck.
Bas has a home and is known to most in the power structure in Abbotsford as a man who calls things as he sees them and is very involved in his community and the political process which guides it.
You can find him most Wednesday nights over at Jubilee Park during The 5 and 2 Ministries meal for the homeless. Failing that, you catch him either at Legal Grounds Coffee House chewing the ear off of a politician or giving as good as he gets over at O’Neill’s Home Cooking over on Gosling.
You stand a good chance of finding him Saturday mornings over at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market and Saturday evenings back over at Jubilee Park.
Wherever he is Bas usually has his eyes and ears wide open. We’re proud to have him as a contributor and urge you to get to know him if you give a damn about Abbotsford. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who cares more than he does.
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.
Embarrassing RevelationsAlong 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.