Abbotsford dismantles tent city; homeless uncertain of future
Published Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:52PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:59PM PDT
Residents of a homeless camp in Abbotsford were evicted by the city Thursday morning, but they didn’t move far.
City officials dismantled the tent city on Gladys Avenue beginning at 8 a.m., and many of its inhabitants moved right back to the same location they were driven out of in the first place.
“June 4th, chicken manure from here to the tracks, and then everybody who was here moved there,” said Ward Draper, a local homeless advocate with 5 and 2 Ministry. “And September 12, everyone that was there, moved here.”
City workers showed up at the original homeless gathering place in June and spread feces several centimetres deep in a plot to make them leave town.
Instead, they moved into the area they were evicted from Thursday.
“They consider this to be their home, and I understand their unwillingness [to move], however safety has to come first,” said Mayor Bruce Banman.
Banman said he wants the B.C. and federal governments to step in to solve the problem because the city can’t handle it alone.
He’s said the city is trying to improve the situation, but has not provided any specifics thus far.
“I don’t think this is something that you can have a quaint little timeline on. It just doesn’t work that way,” he said.
Banman pointed out the city has been talking to Fraser Health Authority, 5 and 2 Ministry, other communities, and the Salvation Army to try to find a solution.
Draper mocked the city’s response, saying “We’ve moved them 75 feet and we’re having conversations. Does that help my friends here?”
Approximately half a dozen homeless are now in limbo after clearing out, except for one man known as “Dale” who refused to leave as crews dismantled the encampment around him.
“Why am I gonna move, so they can kick me out of another place?” he said. “This is gonna happen again and again.”
The 5 and 2 Ministry has suggested a permanent campsite be provided for the city’s homeless, and the mayor has said it’s something he is considering.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Penny Daflos