Abbotsford homeless camp residents vow to stay despite court order
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, December 14, 2013 5:26PM PST
Last Updated Saturday, December 14, 2013 7:57PM PST
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Some residents of a homeless camp in Abbotsford, B.C., are vowing to remain in a city parking lot despite a court injunction ordering them to vacate the area.
"There's people telling me, 'I didn't come to this fight to run away,"' said Barry Shantz, the community organizer leading the group of homeless residents and activists.
About 20 campers were ordered out of a wooden structure they'd erected in the parking lot of a park by 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The City of Abbotsford served them with B.C. Supreme Court documents on Saturday morning.
Katherine Jeffcoat, a spokeswoman for the city, said the judge was not asked to grant an enforcement order so the campers can't be forced out.
"If the people choose to comply or not comply that information goes to the application going before the court on Tuesday. That's for the court to consider."
Jeffcoat said the city will bring its concerns about safety before the court, along with a request that no further structures related to the current protest be erected.
On Thursday, the campers put up wooden planks to fence in the encampment in the parking lot.
Shantz said the group initially moved into the park on Oct. 20 but don't want to return there because the outhouses started leaking feces and urine, creating unsanitary and muddy conditions.
Their goal is to win the right for homeless people to erect wooden shelters on unusable city land, he said.
"We'd like to become self sustainable and get organized to be able to take care of ourselves so we don't have to be looking for the handout," Shantz said.
The injunction is the latest in a series of disputes between the homeless and the City of Abbotsford, which earlier this year apologized for dumping chicken manure on the grounds of a homeless camp in effort to get them out.