While Today Media has been talking about the proposal by Chad Brechin of Integrity Design and Barry Shantz of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS) since October of 2013, City politicians and administrators have kept mum on the topic.
The proposal has never been discussed anywhere but on Abbotsford Today and City officials have so far refused to tell Brechin or Shantz when they are prepared to sit down and discuss it.
In the interest of open, frank and honest discussion about what has clearly become the biggest public issue facing the City and the people of Abbotsford – The Abbotsford Homeless Crisis – Brechin and Shantz have released some of the details of their proposal so that the taxpayers, voters and citizens of Abbotsford can be aware of some of what is, and is not, being discussed behind closed doors at the City of Abbotsford.
To be clear – senior City of Abbotsford officials are aware of this proposal; they’ve seen it; it has been described by City officials privately as “refreshing and possible” and “the best proposal the City has on the table.”
While the Valley Road proposal, funded by the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) through the Abbotsford Dignitarian Society (Abby Digs) involves moving homeless people out of downtown, away from the services they require and allowing the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) 24/7 access to the site, the proposal by Brechin and the DWS involves land within the railway corridor which is closer to the services required by the homeless and could provide self-financed housing arrangement based on a recycling business model.
The properties involved are municipally-owned and completely unsuited for business, commercial or residential development. They currently sit vacant and un-used.
The carefully constructed wooden structure the homeless used to protect themselves from the elements before being evicted from Jubilee Park just before Christmas, was built out of donated materials from the private sector which have been pre-sized, pre-fitted and are ready for assembly as housing for their members if the City would simply provide the municipal properties needed to build their proposal.
The Valley Road proposal has the support of the ADBA directors of Abby Digs and has gone through the planning process at City Hall on a fast track. It has the political support, or at least quiet acquiescence of the mayor, senior staff and the Homeless Task Force as well as the APD.
The DWS proposal has been languishing in planning purgatory and has received scant political attention since it was first received by the planning department and described in very positive terms.
Read both proposals. Speak to your councillors and the candidates in the November 15b election. Tell them to find out (if they don’t already know) what the hell is going on and do something about it.
– DWS Proposal –
Brechin and Shantz are proposing that those who can not use, will not use, or are not being allowed to use, the existing high barrier shelters which do not welcome those who suffer from mental illness, drug addiction and/or alcohol dependence be allowed to move to a number of municipal properties along Railway Avenue where they can live and run their recycling and wood re-selling businesses to help support themselves.
Much like the Gruban/Draper proposal, the homeless men and women could put their government cheques towards the cost of leasing the property and cover their other expenses and make a living operating their businesses and stop the current endless cycle of misery and abuse.
Below is the portion of the proposal describing the housing units being proposed in Level 1 of the proposal. The properties which have been identified have been discussed with City staff and have met with a positive initial response.
The DWS would like to welcome any citizens or companies with expertise, building materials, transportation or other services or assistance you can donate to the cause. Please call Barry Shantz at 778-241-3661.
Level 1- Tent
Purpose: Provide temporary safe housing at a minimal cost that does not require the individuals to change their present living habits.
Description: This first level is a 8’ x 10’ fire treated canvas wall tent that is attached to a wood base. It comes with a framed bed complete with lockable personal storage under. It comes with a small 14” x 24” wood stove with a cooking grill. Attached to the roof is a 30 W solar panel. This will allow for a small light and the ability to charge cell phones and power minor appliances.
This housing allows for sleeping and heat with a minor cooking component.
- Toilet / Shower unit (in separate building)
- Garbage bin
- Group Covered shelter area
- Firewood storage
- Administration office / internet connection / mail box / phone
- Fire extinguishers
- Water tank
This arrangement would be for smaller semi isolated locations with grouping of tents. It is not expected to have land cleared and a large population of residents
A1.1 Material List – PDF
Originally published Jan 13, 2014