Abbotsford’s Homeless left In The Lurch After Mass Evacuation Thursday
By Mike Archer. After all the likely self-congratulations over a tactical success in evacuating the homeless from their source of food and shelter on Gladys Avenue opposite the Salvation Army on Thursday, what does the City intend to do about those who weren’t able to move anywhere?
Cover photo by Bas Stevens.
People like Roy Roberts, who had all of his belongings stolen by the City of Abbotsford last spring and was then shot with rubber bullets behind the Food Bank only to be arrested and sent away for observation are simply in a state of disbelief over the way their city has treated them.
On Sunday morning it became apparent that some of those who lived at the camp were simply unable to move. Some homeless citizens who were unable to find shelter, had nowhere to go are still on the site after 72 hours.
While the Sally Ann provided containers for the belongings of those unable to move them, there was a great deal of confusion at the end of the evacuation Thursday and some people have no idea whether their property was saved or if it went to the dump.
With nobody on site to explain that to some of the disoriented and frightened homeless people who are coming back, they are left with nothing to do other than sit down and wait.
Nobody has yet made it clear what will happen to those who sit down on the land by the Happy Tree awaiting word on their belongings or hoping to get in to the Sally Ann for food.
“Some of these people are incredibly disoriented and especially vulnerable right now. They have had the quasi-security of the camps they were allowed to occupy ripped away from them and they were shuffled down a corridor of barbed wire and No Trespassing signs past an open piece of property the City had cut off by piling truckloads of gravel on it, past the Drug War Survivors’ (DWS) protest site at the TeePee and on out to the Mission Highway.” says Barry Shantz, head of the Abbotsford Chapter of the DWS.
“Where the hell are they supposed to go. The Sally Ann has their belongings. The Sally Ann is their only source of food. For some it is their only connection to survival. Now the City has made it illegal to congregate across from the Sally Ann. What are they supposed to do?” asks Shantz.
When asked about the issue, Deputy City Manager Jake Rudolph told Abbotsford Today, “The City does not have plans should people come back to the site across from Salvation Army. I understand BC Hydro does not intend to allow this to reoccur on their property … which this is.”
“The site with gravel will be leveled and likely will be used for parking which is in short supply in area. The no trespassing signs indicate these are not parks and not for public use.”
When asked “Does the City intend to evict any citizens who seek shelter there?” Rudolphe responded, “Your question is speculative. The City policy is to not permit camps in parks and City owned lands.”
The Abbotsford Police Department (APD), which has a miserable reputation for abusing homeless people, especially those with drug problems or mental illness issues, is also keeping quiet on the issue.
When asked, “Some people who don’t know whether their belongings were put in containers or taken to the dump, don’t know where to go or what to do. Do you have plans to deal with any homeless citizens who come back to the camp across from the Salvation Army on Gladys Avenue which was emptied on Thursday, July 31? Where are homeless citizens supposed to gather if they are waiting to get in to the Sally Ann?”
Const. Ian MacDonald simply replied, “APD didn’t deal with possessions, as you know were minimally involved on Thursday at all.”
Bas is the owner and photographer at MonoPod Photography.
You can follow Bas on Facebook where he publishes many of his photos.
To see more of Bas’ photos on Abbotsford Today click here
To see Bas’ photos of the homeless during Moving Day On Gladys Avenue click here
Bas Stevens lives in downtown Abbotsford and shares the neighbourhood just as readily with his neighbours with homes as he does with the homeless, the drug addicted and others who are down on their luck.
Bas has a home and is known to most in the power structure in Abbotsford as a man who calls things as he sees them and is very involved in his community and the political process which guides it.
You can find him most Wednesday nights over at Jubilee Park during The 5 and 2 Ministries meal for the homeless. Failing that, you catch him either at Legal Grounds Coffee House chewing the ear off of a politician or giving as good as he gets over at O’Neill’s Home Cooking over on Gosling.
You stand a good chance of finding him Saturday mornings over at the Abbotsford Farm and Country Market and Saturday evenings back over at Jubilee Park.
Wherever he is Bas usually has his eyes and ears wide open. We’re proud to have him as a contributor and urge you to get to know him if you give a damn about Abbotsford. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who cares more than he does.
Edited 08/04/14 14:04