On Monday, June 10, Abbotsford Today asked a series of questions of Abbotsford City Councillors and the Salvation Army on the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident which gained worldwide attention.
This evening, Abbotsford City Manager George Murray responded to those questions. We have published the questions and Mr. Murray’s answers as provided.
Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident
Abbotsford Today: 1. Who gave the order to spread chicken feces on the land opposite the Salvation Army where homeless people were gathered?
George Murray: As you know as City Manager for the City of Abbotsford, I retain full responsibility for the manner in which the City dealt with this matter.
AT: 2. Was there a meeting, at any time prior to the incident, at which both the Salvation Army and the City of Abbotsford were represented and the idea of spreading chicken feces was discussed?
GM: Yes, there was a meeting with a number of parties, including the Salvation Army.
AT: 3. Did the Salvation Army participate in, actively discuss and or approve of the decision to spread chicken feces on the property?
GM: The Salvation Army was not involved in making the decision. The Salvation Army does not have the authority to approve City staff to undertake any work. The decision to spread the manure was made by City staff.
AT: 4. From what company did the City purchase the chicken feces used to chase the homeless from in front of the Salvation Army?
GM: The City uses chicken manure for horticulture work and went to a local supplier that we have used in the past. I don’t believe it would be fair to the company to name them as they merely provided us product and did not participate in the decision or actions of the City.
AT: 5. Has the Salvation Army or the City of Abbotsford provided any indication to the homeless people who are not registered in the Salavtion Army’s programs or able to afford to rent or purchase real estate where it is they are supposed to move to?
GM: In situations where the City engages with homeless people, it is standard practice for us to work closely with the Abbotsford Community Health Intervention Partnership and our internal ISET committee as well as other community partners in exploring supportive and respectful options – including offering supportive housing.
AT: 6. Who do the homeless complain to about the removal of their belongings when their sleeping quarters are disturbed and they are dispersed?
GM: The City can be contacted at any time regarding the removal of abandoned items.
AT: 7. Can the homeless get their belongings back or are they disposed of in some fashion?
GM: Typically 48 hours of notice is provided to those impacted and people often take their belongings with them. Once a site has been vacated, structures, if any, are dismantled by the City. If there are abandoned items that clearly exceed $100 value, they are kept for 30 days so that they can be claimed. In the odd case, arrangements have been made to store belongings if there are some left at the site.
AT: 8. Who, at the City of Abbotsford and at the Salvation Army is responsible for the decision to treat the poor in this manner?
GM: Again, as City Manager for the City of Abbotsford, I retain full responsibility for the manner in which the City dealt with this matter.
AT: 9. Is anybody at the Salvation Army or the City of Abbotsford tasked with arriving at a better solution or are the City’s and the Army’s efforts being directed solely at public relations and, as representatives from both were quoted last week, moving forward and putting this incident behind us?
GM: As I mentioned, in situations where the City engages with homeless people, it is standard practice for City staff to work closely with the Abbotsford Community Health Intervention Partnership and our internal ISET committee as well as other community partners in exploring supportive and respectful options. The issue of homelessness is not a City of Abbotsford specific issue, but one that most if not all communities are actively involved in working with all levels of government, health authorities and community agencies to address. Staff at the City will continue to work with all of our partners on this and other critical community issues.