By Mike Archer. The Teepee currently sitting across the street from the big new Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) building is about to be forcibly moved – to where …
no one knows. But moved it will be since those who want it moved have cops with guns working for them.
Photo by JD Archer
After forcibly removing the Drug War Survivors who were living in Jubilee Park from easy public and media view, just two days before Christmas, the City of Abbotsford then gave notice to the occupants of the Teepee to move out of their current location by January 2nd.
They are still there – since they have nowhere to go – and word on the street is that the City is waiting until Monday, January 6, to send in the cops.
They will be greeted with the same question which greets them every time they use the Abbotsford Shuffle to move these citizens around – “Where do you want us to go?”
And they will be met with the same dumb and determined looking faces with the only answer Abbotsford has ever come up with – “I dunno. Not here.”
And they will move again.
This time maybe 50 feet towards downtown, right on the edge of the sidewalk by the tracks …
Maybe they’ll move to a patch of grass near the little municipal park welcoming people to the most caring city in the world at the corner of George Ferguson and Gladys …
For all of the taxpayers’ money which has been spent (guesses vary between $50,000 and $250,000) over the last six months alone, we could have addressed either of the two proposals before the City to provide shelter and security to the homeless people of Abbotsford who are not welcome at the high barrier shelters provided by the province and private sector.
The City is not talking about or telling anybody that the private sector now has stepped up to help the citizens no one else wants to help. Property has been identified and offered. Building materials have been constructed and can be completed in weeks. Workable business plans have been struck and potential partners found who will gladly make both of the proposals before the City work.
And yet nobody at the City is talking about either proposal …
The project put together by Jeff Gruban of the Abbotsford Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists and Ward Draper of The 5 and 2 Ministries is sitting in limbo waiting for Mayor Banman to stop dithering and playing political games.
The property owner and the proponents have met with the Mayor and are ready to go as soon as somebody at City Hall is prepared to stop wasting money on sending Abbotsford Police Department (APD) officers in to solve the homeless crisis and begin making a solution actually work.
The proposal involves a Dignity-Village-style housing project on private land along the Mission Highway near the recycling plnt which would accommodate a variety and number of homeless people who do not fit into the restrictive lifestyles of Abbotsford’s high barrier shelters.
Banman was so impressed with the idea initially that he promised bus service to the project if Draper and Gruban could pull it off. They appear to have pulled it off but now the Mayor’s bravura seems to have tempered dramatically.
Nobody can tell whether Banman is frozen by archaic beliefs, monumental incompetence or abject fear. All he seems capable of doing is letting those trying to do something about the problem know that, whatever anybody tells you about Abbotsford Homeless Crisis:
a) There isn’t one
b) It isn’t his responsibility
c) Homeless people with drug, alcohol or mental illness issues are like pedophiles and should be locked up
Thank you Bruce. Your inability to understand your surroundings, take responsibility and lead your community have been duly noted.
Forget the fact that the new Manager of the Economic Development Department, Siri Bertelsen, has reviewed their proposal, and is said to have described it as “refreshing and possible.”
Forget the fact that Deputy City Manager Jake Rudolph is also said to be in favour of the plan and thinks it is the best proposal the City has on the table.
Chad Brechin, ASCT, Building and Design Consultant and President of Abbotsford’s Integrity Design put the proposal together with Barry Shantz, head of the Drug War Survivors, and everyone who is aware of it is amazed at how well-thought-out it is.
In a nutshell the proposal involves moving the ‘unhousable’ homeless – those who won’t follow the Sally Ann’s restrictive and religious programs, or fit in with the ‘acceptable’ homeless which the City and the provincial politicians like Mike de Jong, Simon Gibson or Darryl Plecas are prepared to finance, and who suffer from mental illness, addiction and alcohol dependence – to a number of municipal properties, already identified and proposed, along railway Avenue where they can live and run their recycling and wood selling businesses to help support themselves.
The donated lumber which was assembled by volunteers in order to build the fortress in the parking lot beside Jubilee Park last Wednesday night is all carefully cut and prefabricated to function as floors for the 30 homes they hope to build when the City is prepared to make a deal on the land.
The provincial and national media have all got the script. Every time the City attempts to force the hard-to-house citizens of Abbotsford – for they are citizens of Abbotsford – into submission and off of public land, the camera crews and reporters come to report on the latest idiocy coming out of Abbotsford and the world sighs in disbelief that a Canadian city in the year 2014 can’t get its act together and do something right for a change.
If Banman and his administration would simply get out of the way and let those who have figured out how to solve the issue do so instead of insisting on sending the cops in to move everybody around 50 ft at a time … I’m getting sick and tired of saying the obvious …
These people are human beings and fellow citizens not a PR crisis to be managed with other people’s money. But to use the cold calculated logic the city seems to understand – you could have paid for a bus route from Chilliwack to Abbotsford and Langley and back for UFV with the money that has been wasted showing Abbotsford’s weakest citizens who is boss.
Cities like Langley, Chilliwack, Mission or Surrey don’t seem to be be living with the number of visible tents and homeless camps peppered throughout their communities nor the provincial, national and international embarrassment due to the policies and decisions of our civic officials, politicians, police officers, church and community leaders. That is unique to Abbotsford. That level of failure on the part of a decade’s worth of community leaders is peculiar to Abbotsford.
In 2014 can we please end the Abbotsford Shuffle and let those who are prepared to come to the table with solutions get on with solving the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis and have those who would rather use the cops to do the job step aside and stop spending money on something that doesn’t work?