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UPDATE: Homeless behind wooden walls next to Jubilee Park

Walls were erected overnight on Wednesday, becoming the new site for a homeless protest camp on McCallum Road.  - Alex Butler
Walls were erected overnight on Wednesday, becoming the new site for a homeless protest camp on McCallum Road.
— image credit: Alex Butler

An eight-foot high walled structure erected Wednesday night in a McCallum Road parking lot is housing the homeless protest camp that previously spent more than 50 days in Jubilee Park.

The new structure – built with donated lumber by a company that protest organizers did not disclose – is located in the city-owned parking lot adjacent to Jubilee Park in Abbotsford's downtown.

The city issued notice today (Thursday) to remove the structure by 6 p.m., as it was built without a permit on city property and those occupying it are trespassing under the municipality's bylaws.

The notice called for residents to cease their occupation of the parking lot, complete no further construction and to dismantle the existing structure.

The original tent village created in the park under organizer Barry Shantz, founder of the Abbotsford chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS), was dismantled to move into the new location.

A teepee standing in Jubilee Park since the beginning of the protest was brought down Thursday morning with plans to erect it in the centre of new structure.

Shantz said the walls will help protect protesters from the elements.

He said the group's recent move mimics the "Abbotsford shuffle," which he describes as the city's historical method of moving the homeless from one site to another without offering solutions.

Since Oct. 20, about 30 people have been living in the park, described by Shantz as a protest against the City of Abbotsford and the Abbotsford Police Department.

The city served the park with an eviction notice Nov. 25, calling for Jubilee Park to be cleared within 48 hours. After protesters did not leave, the municipality applied to the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction to keep all with knowledge of the order to stop from entering, occupying and being present in Jubilee Park between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise the following day without prior permission.

The notice of claim also called for the order to be applicable to all other lands that fall under the city's parks bylaw, as well as authorizing police to arrest and remove any person not complying with the order.

Katherine Jeffcoatt, the city's manager of communications, said the notice against the new structure will become part of the city's application for injunction to the courts, which will call for the structure and tents to be cleared from parks and city land.

The hearing proceeds Monday morning in the New Westminster courthouse.

Pivot Legal Society, a Vancouver-based non-profit legal society, will represent the homeless protesters in the case.

Shantz said that efforts will be made by the protesters to clean up Jubilee Park.

But the city has closed the park and erected cement blocks to close off the adjacent lot to the public, citing safety concerns.

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