Release – The members of the Abbotsford Drug War Survivors (DWS), whose property was confiscated when they were evicted from Jubilee Park before Christmas, have been unable to arrive at a suitable arrangement with the City of Abbotsford to collect and take possession of their belongings and remove them from the locked container in which they have been dumped, to a suitable location.
The City refuses to discuss the DWS self-sustaining housing proposal, which would provide a place for them and their belongings, while it seems determined to continue its expensive legal and police action against them to no obvious purpose other than to harrass, demean and intimidate.
Since their members have not found shelter, after being evicted from Jubilee Park, they have moved to their current location, across from the Mennonnite Central Committee’s (MCC) new building on Gladys Avenue. With an eviction notice for January 2nd, as yet unenforced, against them they cannot bring their belongings to that location if they are simply going to be forced to remove them again at any moment.
Since the City will not tell them where they are moving next, they cannot take possession of their property and move it to some new, unknown location.
The City has imposed a deadline of January 20th for DWS members to reclaim their belongings but refuses to indicate how they are supposed to live up to that deadline with an eviction notice hanging over their them.
Furthermore, the City has steadfastly refused repeated offers to enter in meaningful discussion with the DWS about their proposal to move to any one or more of a variety of empty, unused, municipal properties already identified and discussed with the City, along the railway corridor, as possible locations for the DWS sustainable housing proposal.
The City is also in possession of the confiscated DWS building materials for their proposal, currently stored in the City’s public works yard but, as with their personal belongings, the DWS has no way of picking up or storing their material with nowhere to put it.
“If the City would simply confirm it is willing to discuss our proposal, provide us with a place to move and let us pick up our belongings and building materials, then we could move, and get out from under the shadow of the MCC building,” says the DWS’ Barry Shantz.
The DWS and the MCC have history at the Gladys Street location and Shantz is in possession of the original eviction notices against DWS members from the MCC property when MCC was set to begin construction.
“Our problems with the City and police seem to get worse whenever we are in the MCC’s way,” says Shantz
The City has issued only one eviction notice against the DWS Teepee opposite the MCC building while leaving the many other homeless encampments along Gladys Avenue alone, even though the other camps have been there for months – some ever since the City of Abbotsford and the Salvation Army used chicken feces against the DWS last June.
The DWS can only conclude the City, the MCC and the Abbotsford Police are singling out the DWS for special treatment.
“With no shelter, no security from continued harassment and no willingness on the part of the City to even discuss our proposal for self-sustaining housing, we are forced to conclude that our growing number of lawsuits, human rights complaints and ongoing peaceful protests are the only means we have to convince the City of Abbotsford and its police to move beyond the mindless Abbotsford Shuffle as a solution to homelessness,” says Shantz.
Release from Abbotsford Chapter, BC/Yukon Drug War Surbvivors