By Mike Archer. The homeless men and women who were unable to find shelter after their forced exodus from Jubilee Park two days before Christmas are now the target of further harassment at the hands of the City of Abbotsford and its police force.
Photo by Win Wachsmann
Seemingly oblivious to the accusations they may be singling out a particular kind of homeless person to persecute, or that they may be going a bit far in their war on the homeless, the City of Abbotsford narrowed its focus of harassment this week to the small but growing number of homeless men and women who suffer from drug/alcohol addictions and/or mental illness who weren’t able to find shelter after being evicted from Jubilee Park.
Over Christmas a number of protesters have slowly congregated at the Teepee on the side of the road across from the new Mennonite Central Committee building on Gladys Avenue.
The group is made up of men and women who were either unable to find shelter before Christmas or some who, once they were talked into moving to the Salvation Army on the promise of receiving their personal belongings later, discovered their property had been left behind. When they went to retrieve it they were kept out of the park by the Abbotsford Police.
Forced by the City of Abbotsford to open its emergency shelter facilities, the Salvation Army, which agreed to the use of chicken feces against the same men and women last summer, accepted a limited number of the protesters but, with the Sally Ann’s refusal to help those suffering from mental illness, drug addiction and/or alcohol dependence, those familiar with the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis knew it was a short term solution at best.
The occupants of the Teepee, who were not told where to go when they were forced out of Jubilee Park last week, moved to a place which is close to toilet facilities and food at the Sally Ann and sufficiently out of sight, they thought, to keep them from being harassed. Their new home is on a spot near the railway tracks, well known to police and City officials, which has been used for years, without any apparent problem, to feed the homeless.
The City of Abbotsford, apparently not happy with their choice of location, is now threatening the occupants of the Teepee with eviction and arrest unless they, once again, move by January 2nd.
The City has not issued eviction notices to any of the other homeless camps along Gladys Avenue or throughout the City, most of which have been there since the City attacked the homeless with chicken feces last summer, nor have the occupants of the Teepee been given any indication whether or not not they should be moving themselves 100 feet; 200 feet; 400 feet or all the way back to Jubilee Park.
Afraid that, if they were to join any of the other, apparently acceptable camps, they might bring down the wrath of the City and its police on their homeless friends who have, as yet been left alone for a few months, the occupants of the Teepee are worried about their safety.
Editors Note: Two days before Christmas, based on assertions made before a BC Supreme Court Justice stating that Abbotsford has more than enough shelter space for its homeless population, the City argued that the demand of small children and their parents to congregate and frolic in Jubilee Park outweighed the rights of homeless men and women who, in Abbotsford, are regularly denied access to housing, services, shelter and healthcare in a City which only helps citizens who do not suffer from drug addiction, alcohol dependence or mental illness.
Since the forced exodus from Jubilee there does not appear to have been any substantial increase in the number of citizens lining up to use the swings or the picnic table (which the City removed long ago) at Jubilee Park. Today Media has visited the new site of the Teepee on Gladys Avenue and, to date, has noticed no lineups of citizens demanding to play or frolic in the raspberry bushes by the railway tracks.
It seems nobody at the City or the Abbotsford Police Department bothered to figure out what they would do after those men and women which the City forced the Sally Ann to accept either wore out their welcome or no longer needed emergency shelter.
Apparently the sum total of the City of Abbotsford’s plan involved getting the hard-to-house off the streets for a couple of days, ridding the city of national media and then …
That’s right. They actually thought the problem would go away when the media trucks went back to Vancouver.
As so many have asked for so long … Now What?