By Mike Archer. After another fire at the homeless protest camp on Gladys Avenue there will be more calls to do something about the situation.
And so there should be.
Cover photo: Roy Roberts’ home at the MCC Dignity Village protest camp. Photo by Bas Stevens.
While some of the calls will likely be for a police response and many will blame the homeless protesters for the situation in which they have been placed, let’s not forget that it was the City of Abbotsford and its police department who worked so well together for over a decade in the hopes of having ‘those kind of people’ move on.
Let’s also not forget that it was the City of Abbotsford and BC Hydro which evacuated all homeless people from all of Gladys Avenue except for the tiny little stretch on which the camp now sits.
As their numbers have grown, rather than shrinking as the community leaders who crafted these outrageous policies suggested, and as media attention has been given to the peculiar way in which we treat our homeless citizens in Abbotsford, the truth has been harder and harder to ignore.
Despite attempts by some to blame the homeless and the poor for the costs of the City and the APD’s decades of harassment and abuse, both Mayor Braun and the majority of his council understand that it is the APD and the City who have already spent millions of taxpayer dollars trying to eradicate and remove these citizens instead of providing them with the help they so desperately need.
Criminalizing homelessness hasn’t worked. The excesses of those who instituted and carried out the policies which criminalized drug addiction, mental illness and poverty are a mark of shame some community leaders will bear for a long time.
If we can spend millions harassing and abusing these citizens; suing and defending law suits and human rights complaints from these citizens; and, using almost every strategy imaginable to make their lives so miserable they will leave, then surely we can afford to make their lives a little better and give them a chance at recovery.
Surely the MCC, the APD and the City of Abbotsford can act in at least as efficient and co-operative a manner as they have demonstrated over the years in abusing these men and women, in order to rescue them from the results of that abuse.
Stop finding reasons for complexity and delay.
Get off your asses and do the right thing.