How To Treat Your Homeless Humanely And Have Economic Growth – Chilliwack Gets It

By Mike Archer. As Vince Dimanno mentioned in his June 14th column on the homeless situation in Abbotsford and the illogical objections to the Abbotsford Community Services’ (ACS) Supportive Housing Proposal [Our Collective Silence] – “Langley and Chilliwack both committed to real change and have built facilities that house, feed, educate, mentor and empower the people that need help to do what we want them to do. They get people back into housing and back to work and back to a contributing life.

“Those communities are spreading love while we spread chicken shit.”

There are those in the Abbotsford power structure who prefer to ignore good ideas from outside of Abbotsford. Here is a clear and timely example of how a community, which understands how economic development works, deals with a homeless problem.

Rather than terrorize, abuse and chase them from makeshift camp to makeshift camp – Abbotsford’s policy which evidence now shows was accepted and likely devised at the highest levels of the administration and the council table, our neighbours have discovered that, if you treat the homeless humanely and help them, your city can prosper.

From the Chilliwack Progress: Chilliwack Housing for Homeless Foundation ready to go

“Chilliwack Housing for Homeless Foundation is ready to go, formed by a board of real estate and construction professionals who estimate they can house someone in need for as little as $35,000.

“”There’s very little if any overhead, which will allow us to provide housing to various community groups at affordable prices,” said Alex MacDonald of Remax Realty who made a presentation to council in chambers Tuesday.”

In Abbotsford the business community and the politicians appear to have adopted a 19th century tactic of trying to run the poor out of town, using chicken feces and pepper spray lest they feel that, as citizens, they are entitled to live here or worse, that other homeless people, from miles away, make some sort of mass pilgrimage to downtown Abbotsford unless we treat them so badly no homeless person in Canada would dream of buying an airline ticket to come live in Abbotsford.

Sound too far-fetched too be true?


Surely we have members of the power structure in Abbotsford who have the integrity, the wisdom and the courage to stand up to special interests, bad planning, outdated and morally bankrupt politics, and know how to do the right thing.

*When Councillor John Smith told the CBC in 2008, “The Abbotsford police and the city’s parks department are planning a major crackdown in the area because of the complaints,” it may have been a watershed moment in the relationship between the City of Abbotsford, its Economic Development and Bylaw Departments and the APD with regard to the alleged campaign to rid Abbotsford of its homeless and drug victims through a concerted effort to make them want to leave.

The community’s dirty little secret is now out in the open and the consequences for those in the power structure who may have perpetrated an ongoing campaign to harass, poison and drive the homeless out of town may be serious. Police Chief Bob Rich’s policy to “displace and disperse” may yet prove to be a bigger embarrassment to Abbotsford than June’s chicken feces attack by the City.

* From ‘The Stench That Won’t Go Away’, Abbotsford Today, August 9th, 2014.

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