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City crews prepare to clean up Jubilee Park after homeless camp vacates
Abbotsford's Jubilee Park was strewn on Monday morning with piles of items left behind when a group of homeless campers obeyed a court injunction to vacate the site on Saturday.
City crews were preparing to clean up the area of blankets, mattresses, boxes, a couple of tents, tarps, wooden chairs, old bicycles and dozens of other items that the former occupants were unable to move or no longer wanted.
Most of the objects appeared to be damaged from the rain and snow, but crews were planning to store whatever was salvageable. The camp occupants have 30 days to pick up the items, or the objects are thrown out.
Meanwhile, the wooden structure in the parking lot adjacent to the camp had not been touched as of Monday morning.
A judge had ruled three days before, that the structure – erected by volunteers on Dec. 11, using donated plywood – was to be dismantled by 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 23.
If it's not taken down by that time, the judge stated that city crews can dismantle it, but they must not damage the wood, so that it can be used again in the future.
This was the aftermath of the move that had been ordered on Friday, Dec. 20 by B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams.
The occupants of the camp, which began Oct. 22 in Jubilee Park, obeyed the order to leave the area by 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21.
Ward Draper, spokesperson for 5 snd 2 Ministries, a faith-based advocacy group for the homeless, estimated 12 to 15 people were remaining in the camp as of Saturday morning, down from between 20 to 30 some weeks ago.
He said two of the occupants went to a shelter provided by the Elizabeth Fry Society, two went to the Salvation Army shelter, and one went to a recovery centre.
He said the rest dispersed to various areas in Abbotsford, including along Gladys Avenue across from the Mennonite Central Committee building under construction and across from the Salvation Army.
Draper said he expects it will be about another 60 days before the city once again moves in and demands that the occupants vacate the spaces – a move that Draper calls the "Abbotsford shuffle."
He said plans are underway in the new year to bring a more permanent answer to the housing situation.
Draper would like to form a "citizens' coalition" to push the provincial government for change.
"We need to see some tangible solutions," he said.