By Mike Archer. Abbotsford is once again front and centre in the provincial and national media as reporters from CBC Radio, CTV TV and City TV converge on Jubilee Park to cover the peaceful protest by members of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS).
Cover Photo by Bas Stevens
It began on CBC Radio Tuesday and will continue, almost unabated, throughout the morning and beyond on Wednesday. CTV and CBC TV both covered the protest Tuesday evening.
Mayor Banman went on TV to tell the City’s side of the story – that due to fire code violations and the danger of propane heaters and BBQs near canvas tents the protesters had to remove all tents and structures.
All of the provincial and Vancouver media covering the story so far are relating the story back to the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident June 4th when the city used chicken feces to disperse and displace the men and women from their camp opposite the Salvation Army.He never explained, nor was he asked, why the fire department couldn’t simply show the members of the DWS living in the village how to operate the propane heaters and BBQ safely. Banman seemed convinced that what he was saying made sense and would be swallowed hook line and sinker by anyone listening to him.
The protest began October 20 and has been gathering steam ever since with more and more protesters joining the temporary village that has grown up near the south end of Jubilee Park.
The City of Abbotsford has given protesters a deadline of Wednesday at 4 pm to get all of their tents and structures out of the park or face an injunction the City intends to apply for if protesters do not comply with the City’s written request.
DWS spokesperson Barry Shantz, together with representatives from the Pivot Legal Society will be holding a press conference at the Jubilee Park Wednesday morning at 11:30 at which time a press release will be distributed to media in attendance.
The last time Abbotsford’s homeless crisis received provincial, national and even international attention was when Abbotsford Today broke the story about City of Abbotsford, with the prior approval of the Salvation Army, dumping chicken feces on an encampment of homeless men and women who had taken refuge across the street from the Salvation Army on Gladys Avenue.
Partially as a result of that event and the later move by the City to have the homeless moved from the next encampment where that had sought refuge, DWS members decided to move the Jubilee Park where they could make a stand for their civil rights and remain in public view for the sake of their own safety.
Interviewed by Abbotsford Today on Sunday, several residents of the protest site spoke about how safe they feel now that they are living together in full public view and out of the ravines, ditches and alleyways where they are at risk of being harassed by police or city workers.