An Abbotsford councillor, an APD constable, and a local physician traveled to Campbell River Thursday to examine that community’s attempt to deal with its homeless situation.
Henry Braun, Paul Walker and Dr. David Melnychuk went in order to have a look at Campbell River’s Safe Shelter – a converted steel shipping container in the downtown core.
The three made the trip as private citizens, not representing the organizations they serve. Braun told Abbotsford Today that the low barrier shelter seemed well suited for the purpose and is, “Certainly better than having people living in the ditch.”
Braun has been the only Abbotsford City councillor who has agreed to meet with members of the large Abbotsford homeless community when invited by those whp were living at the Standoff in Jubilee Park which led to the eviction of those protesting Abbotsford’s treatment of its homeless population by force just before Christmas.
After the Salvation Army and other high barrier shelters were ordered by the City to take in as many of the rtesidents of the park as possible the protesters, most of whom suffer drug addiction, alcohol dependence and/or mental health issues, have gradually found their way to a new home at the Teepee opposite the new DCC building on Gladys Avenue.
Abbotsford’s Homeless Crisis has been going on for years but gained international attention in June when Abbotsford Today revealed the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Incident during which the City of Abbotsford, with the approval of the Salvation Army, dumped chicken feces on the homeless men and women camped out across from the Sally Ann.
That event brought attention to the manner in which Abbotsford’s homeless citizens, along with the members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS), have been treated by the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) and City employees.
A number of proposals have been put forward to begin the process of solving Abbotsford’s Homeless Crisis which fundamentally revolves around the fact that, unlike other BC communities, all government funding for homelessness in Abbotsford is funneled to high barrier and religious organizations which simply do not help those who suffer from drug addiction, alcohol dependence and mental illness.
A public hearing is scheduled for February 3rd to discuss the proposal by Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) and BC Housing to build a 20-bed low barrier supportive housing project near downtown Abbotsford.