By Mike Archer. City Manager George Murray was quite clear that the City of Abbotsford intends to deal with its most public of embarrassments in decades – the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident – internally.

Embarrass your home town on the word stage by committing a despicable and outrageous act against the poor with public money while collecting a public wage and the people who pay your salary have to wait to find out what happened.

OK George …

Since neither the City nor the Salvation Army seem interested in discussing this incident with their friends and neighbours – those which, in both cases, pay their generous salaries, we are left to figure out what happened on our own.

Cui Bono
Who stood to benefit by attacking the homeless with chicken feces. Since it was public land, one might conclude that the citizens of Abbotsford, who own the land, might have suddenly decided that a barren stretch of land by the train tracks was of enormous public interest, enough so that the poor who were living there in fear should be poisoned.

Historically speaking that isn’t the way public land is dealt with so we might have to look elsewhere.

Who Else Might Benefit?
The other two organizations with something to gain by attacking the homeless with chicken feces were the Salvation Army, whose building is directly across the street, and the Mill Tower owned by Dave Krahn and partners, the new office tower which is just down the street.

What did either organization stand to gain by the actions of City staff?

Salvation Army's PR Spokesperson Deb Lowell

Salvation Army’s PR Spokesperson Deb Lowell

The Wrong Kind Of Homeless

Despite PR spokeswoman Deb Lowell’s protests to the contrary at Wednesday’s ASDAC meeting the Salvation Army makes no bones about the fact that it only helps some of the poor and homeless. The group which had come to rest across the street from their building, after being chased around town in an ongoing, endless and senseless harrassment by City staff and police, is made up of those the Sally Ann prefers not to help.

Deb really doesn’t want to push back too hard on this point given the Sally Ann’s very public PR issues in various jurisdictions where they have been taken to task for not helping Muslims, or more recently (June 10. 2013) their contention that members of the Lesbian, Gay and Transgendered communities should be put to death.

These are not minor misunderstandings which have no real impact on life in Abbpotsford, they are perhaps the biggest single reason we have such an intractable homeless problem. In Abbotsford, all of the funding for homelessness goes to one organization – the one which is the least inclusive. Sally Ann Gays Not Allowed

So women, those with substance abuse problems, those who are unwilling to, as Lowell puts it – get on a plan – all of the homeless people who do not fit the Sally Ann’s definition of those deserving of help, are left at the mercy of the City of Abbotsford’s Economic Development Department which seems more intent on convincing the homeless to move away from businesses and developers than dealing with them as human beings.

Members of the group have said they have not been made welcome at the Sally Ann and have been told in no uncertain terms that their presence across the street is not appreciated. Is it possible the Sally Ann either suggested, participated in or knowingly turned a blind eye to this disgusting incident?

We’ve asked both the local and provincial levels of the Sally Ann for comment and, as usual, in matters of public concern (PR), have heard nothing back. We also asked the City but, being the good employees of the public they are, they apparently don’t feel obliged to explain themselves or tell the truth to those who pay them.

Dave Krahn's Mill Tower

Dave Krahn’s Mill Tower

Dave Krahn’s Mill Tower
The other possible player in this horrendous incident is the the Mill Tower office development owned by Dave Krahn and partners.

Councillors like Dave Loewen went on a virtual Twitter binge several weeks ago joyfully promoting the building (at the expense of other Abbotsford properties) and the City’s Economic Development Department, eager to have some good news or success to offer after eight years with Jay Teichroeb at the helm, seems to have been pulling out all the stops to promote Krahn’s asset.

Councillor Dave Loewen who started a Twitter campaign to help promote Mill Towers

Councillor Dave Loewen who started a Twitter campaign to help promote Mill Towers

It can’t be easy mounting a marketing, sales and promotion plan for the kind of elite business clients they want to attract when the poor are hanging around just down the street stinking up the joint.

The only other possible explanation is that the railway expressed its concern to the City about the detrimental impact the homeless were having on their rails. Other than that there are no landowners in the immediate area. Other, of course, than the Abbostford Downtown Business Association (ADBA).

Economic Development Manager Jay Teichroeb

Economic Development Manager Jay Teichroeb

While it may be that the Sally Ann just stood by and did nothing while the people who have told us they have been made to feel unwelcome across the street were attacked with chicken feces, and it may also be that Dave Krahn or his representatives did nothing more than express concern or frustration about the homeless up the street from his place … somebody decided it was a good idea to attack some of our most defenceless citizens with chicken feces in order to give them the message, as if they didn’t know it already, that are not welcome near the Sally Ann of Mill Tower.

John Sutherland

What Now?

John Sutherland

At the ASDAC meeting on Wednesday, Chair John Sutherland assured those present that the City knows who is responsible and plans to take the appropriate personnel action.

Sutherland is no fool. He is also, unlike so many who sit in leadership positions in our community, a leader. While he assuaged the fears of those who, like Deb Lowell, fear that blame must be attributed before we can move on, he nonetheless insisted, as the ASDAC meeting progressed, on truth, depth, meaning and progress which can be measured.

Sutherland is a man of quality. While he understands and allows for the preservation of the dignity of those who have tried and failed to serve our community he is nonetheless insistent on truth as the only means to a way forward.

More than anything. at Wednesday’s meeting, he seemed to be calling upon all those involved in this sordid business – for we have all been dragged down into it – to concentrate on how best to crawl out of this place in which we have been thrust by people who have not had our best interests at heart.

Even less so those of the men and women who have been forced to live in conditions the rest of us devote a great deal of our existence to avoiding.

Living in one’s car on the side of the street is where it starts.

Being covered in chicken shit is where it apparently ends in Abbotsford.

We now all agree … this must end.

People in our community are being treated as subhuman individuals, That is something none of us should condone. Much less our civil servants.

If we are going to put this issue behind us we have to know who that individual is and why they did what they did. Not so he or she can be pilloried but so that there can be a real cost for all who follow in their footsteps that certain things are simply unacceptable when dealing with out fellow human beings and citizens.

It also about time that the funding for dealing with our social issues be divvied up more equitably among organizations other than the Sally Ann which, despite her protest to the contrary, has proven unequal to the task of dealing with homelessness in Abbotsford.

Cover Art: The Sacrifice of Abraham ; Andrea del SARTO; 1527-28;

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