Fire crews battle a blaze early Monday morning at a home on Crescent Way in Abbotsford. (Kevin MacDonald photo)

Fire crews battle a blaze early Monday morning at a home on Crescent Way in Abbotsford. (Kevin MacDonald photo)

Fire, theft, fights: Homeless population disturbs east Abbotsford neighbourhood

Outreach worker says problems are offshoot of housing crisis

Vacant properties in east Abbotsford have attracted homeless people, leading to disturbances, thefts and fires in the last month, according to a nearby resident.

For the second time in five weeks, fire crews were called to a run-down home at the corner of Crescent Way and Cannon Avenue, near Ravine Park and Abbotsford Senior Secondary.

A cause has not yet been released for this week’s fire, which occurred early Monday morning. However, Louise Tait, who lives nearby, believes the fires are connected to people who have been squatting there.

The Crescent Way resident said she has seen the number of homeless people increase dramatically in the 15 years she has lived there. She said she has witnessed campfires, altercations and people under the influence of drugs.

Tait said a man was living in a shed at the back of her property this past winter. She only learned of his presence after he broke into their garage and stole thousands of dollars worth of tools, some of which, she said, they found in the shed.

Tait said she has called police and the city’s bylaw office countless times but has been left frustrated as the problems persist.

A city spokesperson said she could not answer questions about complaints made about the Crescent Way property or how the municipality has responded and suggested The News could file a freedom of information request.

Sgt. Judy Bird said Abbotsford Police have been called to the Crescent/Cannon home nine times since 2016. Most of those calls have been about trespassing and have included the co-operation of the property owner, who does not live there, she said.

Bird said she encourages residents with concerns about potential trespassers to call or text police. Police cannot kick someone off a property without the owner or resident having asked them to leave first, she said, but they may enter a property to investigate if suspicious activity or a potential break-and-enter has been reported.

Jesse Wegenast, an outreach pastor with 5 and 2 Ministries, said he understands the concerns of Tait and her neighbours.

“If that were my neighbourhood and I had fire engines roaring in, waking up my kids in the middle of the night, it would make me upset too,” he said. “I get it.”

But, Wegenast said, as people are kicked out of one area and migrate to another, the same clashes with residents follow. He said it’s a cycle that has been repeating for years.

“There’s nothing new under the sun,” he said.

Programs and resources are available to combat the housing crisis, such as shelters, a supportive housing project and help from organizations like 5 and 2. Two new modular housing projects are also in the works, but Wegenast said it’s still not enough.

“The ship is filling up with water faster than we can bail it out,” he said.

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

Just Posted

Paul Sweeting, the owner of Ravens Brewing Co., helped lead his company to success during the pandemic. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford’s Ravens Brewing Co. wins Innovation Excellence Award

Local business pivoted in an innovative way to meet the unique demands of the COVID-19 pandemic

Abbotsford’s Patna Sweets and Restaurant has been awarded the Frontline Excellence Award at the 2020 Abbotsford Business Excellence Awards.
Abbotsford’s Patna Sweets and Restaurant wins Frontline Excellence Award

Local business recognized for its leadership and grace to aid Abbotsford during the pandemic

Fraser Valley Bandits release ‘Vancity Bandits’ merchandise

New collaboration between basketball team and clothing brands now available

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Abbotsford’s Zone Garage Fraser Valley won the Community Contribution Award at the 2020 Abbotsford Business Excellence Awards. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Zone Garage wins Community Contribution Award

Local business wins big at the 2020 Abbotsford Business Excellence Awards

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

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

Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Most Read