Dear Editor. There has been much talk in the news of late in regards to the homeless problem in Abbotsford, and it seems like everyone thinks this a newer problem for this town.
Some will tell you that the homeless population explosion in Abbotsford is tied to the closure of Riverview; some say it’s because police in other jurisdictions drive their problem homeless people out to the Valley, but I believe it is neither.
I moved to Abbotsford as a 13-year-old in May of 1981 and two things I noticed right away were:
There were a lot of churches, and I saw my first homeless person.
Anyone who has lived in Abbotsford since the early ’80s will remember Beer Bottle Bill, a classic case of mental illness, and he was not the only one in this town back then that was not getting the help they needed.
First it was Jubilee Park that was the issue back in the ’80s with homeless and drug dealers using the park. Over the years they have built in numbers, and all the while it was the churches that were expected to help them, while the city did very little.
Now the problem has become a major issue and the churches are told not to feed the homeless in city parks (Jubilee included) because it is a nuisance.
Well, if the city council wasn’t so narrow-minded back in the ’80s and ’90s when this problem was rising; if the city had not relied on the very same churches they now chastise for helping the homeless; had the city had the foresight to actually do something back then, we would not be discussing this as heavily as we are.
It is no coincidence that the core of city council now is the same core of city council back then when the problem was starting to get out of hand.
I say it is time for fresh faces on city council. Those who have served for many years seem to have gotten too comfortable with their roles in city hall.
It’s time to shake the council tree and bring in new, more liberal-minded people to run this city.
It isn’t a quiet, little farm town anymore.
It’s time our representation reflected that.
Expect to see some new faces this fall election.