An eviction notice is left at the Gladys Avenue homeless camp in 2014, at the heat of the conflict between city hall and the local homeless community. Members of Drug War Survivors in Abbotsford say having a permanent place to stay, given the lack of housing, is a major issue for them this election season. File photo

An eviction notice is left at the Gladys Avenue homeless camp in 2014, at the heat of the conflict between city hall and the local homeless community. Members of Drug War Survivors in Abbotsford say having a permanent place to stay, given the lack of housing, is a major issue for them this election season. File photo

Housing, camping big election issues for Abbotsford homeless

Members of Drug War Survivors spoke on issues important to them in the upcoming election

Issues surrounding homeless camps and housing are top of mind among some members of an Abbotsford network of drug users and homeless individuals in the upcoming municipal election.

“I’m a homeless person myself, so it would be nice to see something go up. There’s been so many plans that we’ve put forward … and the city keeps turning them down,” said Harvey Clause, a member of the Drug War Survivors steering committee, ahead of a DWS meeting Tuesday.

RELATED: Petition opposes Dignity Village proposal

In 2014, a group of 14 individuals, including seven homeless, proposed a plot on Valley Road for a transitional campground, but that was denied by city hall.

At Tuesday’s DWS meeting, numerous members spoke in favour of a tent city during a discussion on the election, saying it is too burdensome for homeless individuals, who are often seniors, to pack everything up and take it around with them all day.

But the idea of being allowed to permanently camp out didn’t have unanimous support from DWS members.

Find our Abbotsford Election Hub here.

“It would have to be in a place where they have to be monitored. They have to be checked when they come in, they have to be checked when they leave. Drug paraphernalia, whatever, has to be removed when they come out,” said DWS member Mike Purchase.

Clause said he hasn’t seen a lot of progress on housing for the homeless, either, pointing to delays in the upcoming modular homes in Abbotsford, which were set to go up by Christmas.

“Doesn’t look like anything’s happening that way yet,” he said. “A few vacancies in the Heartstone, but … you couldn’t pay me to live there. For some reason, you’re not allowed to have guests.”

RELATED: Abbotsford candidate list released as nomination period closes

Purchase focused more on the issue of shelter space in the city, saying he got frostbite last winter after he was turned back by a local shelter.

“If it wasn’t for the MCC opening their doors like they have been and Jesse (Wegenast of 5 and 2 Ministries) doing what he’s doing, there’d be a lot more people getting hurt,” Purchase said.

But the most important issue for Purchase is getting more residential addictions treatment and homeless services in Abbotsford that would also provide classes on things like resumes and employment. He also suggested getting more services in the way of a safe consumption site.

Currently, the city only has one overdose prevention site, situated at the Lookout Society’s homeless shelter, which does not provide the full services of a safe consumption site.

“It would definitely make sure the kids don’t get stabbed by anything (in parks),” he said. “Every camp that I’ve been to, I’ve spent days picking that stuff up.”

Though at least three mayoral candidates – incumbent Henry Braun, Moe Gill and Eric Nyvall – have spoken at DWS meetings ahead of the election, Clause appeared disillusioned by the notion of campaign promises.

“Especially if you’re just putting it out there because it’s part of your ploy to be elected,” Clause said. “Actions speak louder than words, and it would be nicer if they didn’t say something and just did something.”

Find all local election-related coverage here.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The driver of a pickup truck failed to stop after knocking down a wooden fence on March 3, 2021. (screen grab)
VIDEO: Footage catches pick-up driver smash fence on Abbotsford/Langley border

Driver came forward after video circulated on social media

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Photo by Dale Klippenstein
Two men taken to hospital after fight on Keeping Road in Abbotsford

One of the men suffers serious injuries in incident on Thursday night

Stattonrock Design + Build in Abbotsford won four awards at the recent Fraser Valley Housing Awards of Excellence, including for Best Renovation – Whole House and Best Kitchen Renovation over $50,000 for this house.
Abbotsford company wins four housing excellence awards

Stattonrock Design + Build’s honours include Residential Renovator of the Year

....
‘Basmodi Wave’ Indian farmers protest coming to Abbotsford on Sunday

200 pairs of shoes being placed outside Abbotsford city hall to represent deaths during protests

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read