By Mike Archer. A lot of people assumed that, under the leadership of our new Mayor, and, with direction from council, the City of Abbotsford was trying to get out of the court cases in which it is embroiled with Abbotsford’s homeless citizens.
Rumours of extensive ongoing discussions, clear public statements from Mayor Braun on the occasion of a couple of small fires at the homeless camp on Gladys Avenue, together with encouraging words in several quarters, from Barry Shantz, founder of the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS) have led many to believe we are finally coming to an end of the legal war with our poor and destitute citizens.
So; it may have been with a bit of a surprise that Abbotsford citizens read about last week’s courtroom drama in which the City, for the second time in the last eight months, argued that the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) is a third party for which the City is not responsible and that Abbotsford’s homeless citizens should pay the APD $29,000 to cough up the evidence the homeless say they need for their court battle with the City.
All that seems to have changed since the new mayor and council were sworn in is that there are now a few more porta potties and two washing stations at the protest camp on Gladys Avenue and the Bylaw Department seems to have reined in some of its worst offenders when it comes to bullying the city’s homeless.
Not much of an accomplishment for three months of work.
And, having wasted another eight months beating a dead horse before the court to try and keep evidence from being heard, the City now has only three months left to try to negotiate a way out of the legal quagmire it has created for itself.
Opponents of Abbotsford’s homeless like to point out, at every opportunity, that decisions which are made by the City or the APD are costing Abbotsford taxpayers a great deal of money. Though they seem to like attaching the blame for these costs to the victims, it is time for somebody at City Hall to do two things:
- Explain to Abbotsford citizens and the world just how much money has been spent fighting Abbotsford’s homeless population by the APD; by the City; on lawyers and in the courts. All of it. Conservative estimates put the amount at well over $1 million so far.
- Tell Abbotsford citizens and the world when it is going to stop.
How many times does the City have to lose in court for it to decide to seek better legal advice? When it loses this summer it will make worldwide headlines as the city which spent every cent it could find to beat its homeless population in court rather than lift a finger to help them.
Plus ça change …