Members of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee met on Wednesday to discuss homeless initiatives.

Members of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee met on Wednesday to discuss homeless initiatives.

Committee condemns manure incident, searches for homeless solutions

The Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee has made some proposals and opened up discussion on homelessness.

Last week’s incident involving Abbotsford city workers dumping chicken manure on a known homeless camp has been publicly condemned by members of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC).

During a special meeting held Wednesday morning, committee member Ron Van Wyk, of the Mennonite Central Committee, told the group that although the purpose of the meeting is to discuss homeless initiatives, it is important for ASDAC to “express its disapproval” of the incident.

“It is a despicable act that has to be condemned by this body otherwise we will fail the people that we are representing. It’s an act that doesn’t belong in our community, it doesn’t belong in society. It belongs in Fascist societies.”

Committee members agreed that the manure incident needed to be addressed before any positive movement could take place and voted unanimously to condemn it.

Another initiative that was approved by the committee was to “reactivate” the housing working group which, four years ago, helped put together the homeless camp closure protocol that is supposed to be used by the city.

“I think the camp closure protocol needs to be updated and ensure that it’s followed,” said Wayne Green of the United Way.

He also noted that several recommendations that have been made by the committee have not been acted on by the city.

“I really want to see this committee functioning at a high level and city council and city staff respecting the work that we do,” said Green.

ASDAC chair John Sutherland agreed.

“So many things we recommend disappear into a void. We don’t know where they go and we don’t know why they are ignored.”

Sutherland has met with city manager George Murray to discuss the problem and said he is encouraged that things will change.

Sutherland called today’s recommendations a beginning.

“But it’s a beginning that we’ve made before … It’s more now the will of the city and other groups to take it forward.”

He said there is a genuine enthusiasm among his members to move forward and make changes. ASDAC will meet again in July to look at more long-term solutions to the homeless issue.

As part of the meeting, presentations were made by service groups who work on a regular basis with the homeless. These groups included the Salvation Army, 5 and 2 Ministries and Abbotsford Community Services (ACS).

Rod Santiago, executive director of ACS told the group that they are proposing to build a 20-room facility to house homeless men.

The proposed building would be located by the ACS parking lot at 2408 Montvue Ave.

“We’ve been working on it for the last two years,” said Santiago.

For more information on the proposed building and for more on the ASDAC meeting, check for updates on abbynews.com.