Mayor Banman and the City of Abbotsford have got themselves (and the rest of us who pay for it all) into a bit of a dilemma in terms of the arguments they are making in court on our behalf.
In order to convince a BC Supreme Court Justice to enforce an eviction notice on the members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors who were protesting in Jubilee Park during the Standoff in Jubilee, the City of Abbotsford said there are enough shelter spaces in Abbotsford.
That meant that, with enough shelters to go to, there was no reason for the protesters to be inhabiting Jubilee Park or any other municipal park in Abbotsford.
Things have changed since the City told that story to the judge.
- Those homeless who were quickly crammed into emergency shelters by the City and acquiescent service providers were quickly back on the street within days
- The number of homeless camps along Gladys Avenue has grown as has the number in the camps across the city
- The Teepee which was the symbolic centre of the Standoff in Jubilee has moved down to the ‘MCC Dignity Village’ on Gladys Avenue
- ‘MCC Dignity Village’ has an unenforced eviction notice pinned to the Teepee that ordered residents to leave by January 2nd
- Mayor Banman sided with a minority of councillors to kill a $15.3 million low barrier shelter proposed by the City, Abbotsford Community Services and BC Housing
- Since clearing the homeless from Jubilee Park and the adjacent parking lot, the need of community members to be able to use the park has been shown to NOT exist in any serious form. This is apparent by the absence of any citizens in the park
The City may be forced to %@#$ or get off the pot when the Supreme Court revisits the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis.
- Either there are enough shelter spaces or there aren’t, and, if there are, why are so many citizens living on the streets again?
- The City cannot prevent low-barrier shelters and not allow homeless people to live in City parks.
If the City honestly believed that other citizens wanted to use Jubilee Park they were either ignoring the long history of the park as a home for dispossessed homeless people with no where to go, or, they had a different view of the park than the citizens who, based on the photos below, don’t seem the least bit eager to use it.
Furthermore, during the protest, a number of citizens commented on the fact they were perfectly comfortable with their children playing in the park next to the homeless and, in fact, took their children to the park regularly and introduced them to the homeless “protesters”.
By telling the judge that those living in Jubilee Park had somewhere to go and then using cold weather shelter procedures to force high barrier shelters like the Sally Ann to accept those with mental illness issues, drug or alcohol habits for a day or two, only to disgorge them back out onto the street over the following days and weeks, Banman and the City seem to have misrepresented themselves to the judge.
By voting against the only low-barrier shelter to make it through Abbotsford’s political process for approval, Banman seems to be thumbing his nose at the Supreme Court by refusing to provide even the smallest, most basic low-barrier shelter in Abbotsford – even when the BC government is paying for it.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be going back before the same judge trying to defend or enforce a homeless eviction notice ever again if I were the City of Abbotsford.
Photos Of The Huge Crowds Of Citizens Using Jubilee Park And The Adjacent Parking Lot: