BC Hydro prepares to evict Abbotsford homeless

BC Hydro have asked residents of two homeless camps along Gladys Avenue to leave by Thursday morning.

BC Hydro distributed more eviction notices this week as it prepares to remove two homeless camps on Thursday from its land along Gladys Avenue.

Earlier this month, BC Hydro posted “no trespassing” signs and issued eviction notices, requiring residents to vacate the property by July 31 at 9 a.m. The Crown corporation did the same last week, and again on Tuesday.

Hydro spokesperson Mora Scott said safety concerns prompted the Crown corporation’s decision to evict the campers from its land.

“The current situation isn’t sustainable as the camps are close to an active rail corridor and electrical equipment, which creates serious safety concerns,” Scott said.  “We continue to work collaboratively with the municipal government staff and local social service providers to ensure occupants are respectfully transitioned off the property.

“Our hope is that [the land] is vacated by July 31,” Scott said. “We’ve acquired bailiff services to ensure public safety and that all legal processes and requirements are met.”

Ward Draper, an advocate for the homeless and pastor with 5 and 2 Ministries, said it’s unclear what will actually happen on July 31, when the eviction deadline expires.

“I’ve heard the full spectrum, from ‘We’re not going’ to ‘We’re going,’ ” he said.

Each resident has different needs, Draper noted. While an increased housing supplement from BC Housing is welcomed and may help some residents, Draper said the most pressing need is immediate and accessible housing.

Beyond that, he said: “There’s no one answer for this complex situation.”

With uncertainty surrounding what will occur Thursday, Draper said he would like to see Abbotsford residents come to the site to show support for the city’s homeless.