Abbotsford hands homeless camp 48-hour eviction notice
Published Wednesday, September 11, 2013 9:56AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 11, 2013 10:14PM PDT
The City of Abbotsford is telling inhabitants of a homeless camp to clean up and clear out after posting an official eviction notice.
Homeless residents of the camp on Gladys Avenue received the 48-hour notice Tuesday and have until 8 a.m. Thursday to evacuate the site before the city dismantles it.
The City of Abbotsford said it’s shutting down the camp for health and safety reasons.
“It’s bad,” said Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman. “It’s deemed that it’s no longer a healthy environment for people to be at, and in addition to that it’s along a railway line. There are many, many reasons why this is not, in any way, a location for anyone to live.”
Banman said the decision was made after “ongoing attempts” to work with local homeless advocates, businesses, fire officials, police and the city.
“Everyone was in agreement,” he said.
The city will work with community partners to try to find the camp’s inhabitants places to live, according to Banman.
One homeless advocate said he thinks the eviction order will just make the problem worse.
“We by no means endorse the destruction of the camps, because where are all our friends gonna go?” asked Ward Draper from 5 and 2 Ministries.
“This isn’t a solution. This is just keeping heaping more problems on our friends.”
Draper said instead of handing out eviction notices, the city should provide a regulated camp site for the homeless population, like the Dignity Village encampment in Portland, Ore.
“It’s an innovative idea,” Banman said. “However I think that we need to go back to the larger overall picture...the sad fact is the cities just don’t have the resources or the money to do this all alone.”
It’s not the city’s first attempt to drive out homeless residents.
Local advocates condemned the Fraser Valley community after city workers showed up at a homeless gathering place in June and spread feces several centimetres deep in a plot to make them leave town.
Homeless residents also allege that Abbotsford police officers slashed tents and used pepper spray to make their camps uninhabitable.
The complaints have sparked a lawsuit, which is being spearheaded by Pivot Legal Society.
Pivot, a non-profit advocacy group, said it will represent individual small claims cases in connection with the allegations of tent-slashing, and a group human rights complaint regarding perceived harassment and discrimination of the city’s homeless.