Homeless protest camp cleanup costs upwards of $60,000

City has declined to release associated legal fees

The city of Abbotsford sought an injunction in late November to prohibit a homeless protest camp in Jubilee Park.

The city of Abbotsford sought an injunction in late November to prohibit a homeless protest camp in Jubilee Park.

The removal of a homeless protest camp in Jubilee Park in December cost the city at least $60,000 – not including the legal costs which were withheld by the city – according to information obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

In the information obtained in the request, the city listed staff overtime costs to clear the site at $40,875, while contract services cost $15,049 and departmental supplies and miscellaneous expenses were $6,660.

The city withheld the legal costs for the file, citing section 14 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, stating that the information is subject to solicitor-client privilege.

The protest camp was established in October of last year, organized by members of the Abbotsford chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors, who originally said they would stay in the downtown park on McCallum Road for a few days.

The group said they were gathered to raise awareness about the needs of the city’s marginalized residents and soon announced they would continue a peaceful protest until there was a housing solution for homeless people.

The city issued notice in late November for the camp to be dismantled, citing safety violations noted by police and fire services and the contravention of city bylaws against camping in public parks.

When the order was defied, the issue went to court, with the city seeking an injunction to prohibit the camp in Jubilee Park.

City lawyers presented evidence in B.C. Supreme Court that the campers were breaking city bylaws by lighting fires, using drugs and alcohol, littering and becoming involved in physical assaults.

The judge said the camp was impacting public use of the park and this superseded the inconvenience of moving the campers. He also ordered the dismantling of a wooden structure used as a camp site that was erected by concerned citizens in a city-owned parking lot next to Jubilee Park.

The injunction issued in December related only to Jubilee Park. The city’s application to enforce a ban on overnight camping in all parks will be dealt with as part of a separate trial, a date for which has not been set.

A teepee that was located in the camp was relocated to Gladys Avenue, where it has remained since January in defiance of a city eviction notice.