Homeless Decision Postponed ‘Til Wednesday

The much anticipated BC Supreme Court decision over the motion by Pivot Legal Society asking the court to set aside the injunction which allowed for the evacuatuion of homeless men and women from Jubilee Park last December has been postponed until Wednesday, December 17.

The judge is expected to rule on the motion at around 10:30 am.

If Pivot, which is acting on behalf of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukpon Drug War Survivors (DWS) and a number of homeless Abbotsford citizens, is successful, it will open the door for the homeless protesters and others to move back to Jubilee Park from their current location at ‘MCC Dignity Village’ on Gladys Avenue.

The truth of the City of Abbotsford’s claims to have plenty of available shelter space for drug addicts and people suffering from mental illness is in question – both at the time the injunction was granted and to this day.

In seeking the injunction last December, the City of Abbotsford told the court that there was plenty of shelter space in Abbotsford. Friday the judge learned that, not only had the homeless men and women who were evicted been temporarily housed in emergency shelters but that, within days, they had been back on the street.

If the injunction is set aside, it would pave the way for the homeless to move back to Jubilee Park.

Pivot, acting on behalf of its clients the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS) and individual homeless citizens, presented evidence during four hours of testimony which showed that, despite the City’s assurances, there simply isn’t enough shelter space in Abbotsford to accommodate the over 170 people living on the streets.

Pivot also detailed a number of actions taken by the City and others which it said were deliberately provocative and aggressive making it impossible for desperate people in Abbotsford to live anywhere but at the tiny protest camp called ‘MCC Dignity Village’ on Gladys Avenue.

Bas Stevens photo.

Bas Stevens photo.

Conditions at the camp have become almost unbearable over the last year. The City’s latest action, taken just weeks ago, was to raid the camp backed up by Abbotsford Police (APD) cruisers and dismantle the temporary wooden structures the homeless had erected in order to protect them from the cold (with prefab shelters donated to them) and confiscating their materials.

A report has been circulating which purports to show that Abbotsford has some 300 shelter spaces but critics say that number only takes into account the shelters available during emergency cold weather days.

The City of Abbotsford is defending several law suits on behalf of victims of the City’s use of chicken feces to convince the poor to move away from the Salvation Army – the only place they can find food or washrooms; police abuse in the form of theft, destruction of property and the use of pepper spray to control the poor; a collection of Anti Homeless Bylaws attempting to make it illegal for homeless people to stay overnight on City land.

An attempt by the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) to ship as many homeless men and women out of the downtown area to a piece of property out by the recycling dump was quietly withdrawn earlier this year.

Mayor-elect Henry Braun campaigned on a platform of getting the City out of the numerous lawsuits in which it is engaged with the DWS and a number of its homeless citizens.

Under the previous mayor and council the City spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the homeless with police and lawyers while turning down millions of dollars in supportive housing funds from the province of BC.

There are still no low barrier shelters in Abbotsford capable of housing or helping the majority of those who live on Abbotsford’s streets who suffer from mental illness, use of or addiction to drugs and/or alcohol dependence.

The City lost its last battle with the DWS over its draconian ‘Anti Harm Reduction Bylaw’ which stepped beyond municipal jurisdiction and made it an offence for caregivers and health professionals to save lives with clean needles and other harm reduction services and supplies.

*When asked by Abbotsford Today who had made the decision to appeal the BC Supreme Court Chief Justice’s decision to allow the Pivot/DWS cases against the City and the APD to go ahead Rudolph refused to answer saying decisions had been made behind closed doors and were none of Abbotsford Today’s or the public’s business because the matters were before the courts. None of the councillors at the time would admit to knowing anything about the decision to appeal the judge’s ruling. The City has been accused of deliberately dragging out this case, at taxpayers’ expense, rather than let the case proceed in open court and be done with. Despite the City’s decision to appeal, the BC Supreme Court Chief Justice went ahead and set a trial date in the case for next June.

Short Summary of Abbotsford’s Homeless Crisis:

Nick Zurowski, The Face of Homelessness in Abbotsford. Bas Stevens  Photo

Nick Zurowski, The Face of Homelessness in Abbotsford. Bas Stevens Photo

First came John Smith’s announcement to the national media that he had instructed the APD to handle homelessness in downtown Abbotsford; then the Abbotsford Shuffle – otherwise known as Chief Bob Rich’s “disperse and displace” strategy for solving homelessness; then Mayor Banman’s Chicken Manure Incident (first revealed on Abbotsford Today); then there was the Standoff in Jubilee; followed by the ‘MCC Dignity Village‘ protest camp on Gladys Avenue and the gathering of more and more of Abbotsford’s homeless to the security of living with others and out in the open in the growing size and number of camps across from the Salvation Army and along Gladys Avenue.

Embarrassing Revelations

Abbotsford Homeless Camp. Bas Stevens photo.

Abbotsford Homeless Camp. Bas Stevens photo.

Along the way a few embarrassing revelations were uncovered and published by Abbotsford Today including
the fact that the Salvation Army knew about and was in agreement with the use of chicken feces to encourage the homeless to move from their camp across the street from the Sally Ann; and the rude and demeaning emails shared by police chief Bob Rich and his senior staff after the Chicken Manure Incident went worldwide.

Leave a Reply