By James Breckendridge. If it wasn’t so pathetic, watching the city’s ‘shock and awe’ closing of the homeless camp on Gladys avenue and the outcome would have been hilarious.

The expression on Mayor Banman’s face when the answer to the question he and council have been ignoring: “if you close the camp, where are the homeless suppose to go?” turned out to be 100 meters along Gladys back to the spot the city had spread with chicken feces must have been quite a sight to behold.

Ignoring reality does not change reality.

Although Abbotsford’s mayor and council appear convinced that if they keep doing the same thing over and over and over, year after year, decade after decade, they will eventually get a result they will like.

I have watched a decade of mayors and councils chase the homeless from camp to camp around and around and around and around Abbotsford. Mayors and councils apparently unable to grasp the simple concept that if the homeless have no option but to camp, the homeless will camp no matter how often the city forces them to move.

When asked by the media where the homeless were suppose to go Mayor Banman stated they were working with local agencies on that.

EXCEPT the local agency that has a funding agreement in place with BC Housing under which Abbotsford Community Services will receive funding to construct 20 units of first stage housing (using the Housing First model); the agreement provides additional funding for services to support the residents.

Pathways to Housing, Inc., of New York City, a program that created the Housing First model won the 2005 American Psychiatric Association Gold Achievement Award in the category of community-based programs.

Considering the reductions in chronic homelessness achieved in the United States using the Housing First approach, that countries in Europe are also using Housing First principles to reduce their chronic homelessness, Abbotsford’s use of chicken feces against the homeless and the spectacular fizzle of the ‘closing’ of the homeless camp across from the Salvation Army…….using Housing First to reduce homelessness in Abbotsford would seem to be so much of a ‘no brainer’, it should be right up council’s alley.

Instead we have the city muttering about ‘Right Location’ to excuse their failure to have rezoned the property proposed for ACS’s first stage housing.

Under Housing First principles the property ACS proposes to use, while it may not be the ‘Right Location’ [politically correct speak for NIMBY], is the Best location – in my opinion and the opinion of others who have advised council for years that Housing First is a best practice that has proven effective in reducing homelessness around the world.

Unfortunately, rather than re-zoning the ACS property, council remains committed to chasing the homeless from spot to spot around Abbotsford; apparently believing that if they chase the homeless long enough and hard enough, council will get a different outcome at some point.

Speaking of being committed, Albert Einstein defined Insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Come to think of it…….unsoundness of mind would certainly explain council’s decisions, actions and behaviours over the past decade.

Post Script:

I am sure that the new tenant at the camp on Gladys across from the Salvation Army is very appreciative of the city making the previous tenants move and the job done removing the debris and making the camp habitable.

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