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

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

Aspiring pot-sellers can apply in two weeks to operate stores in Abbotsford

City will accept applications to operate one of four new stores; public consultation to follow

Abbotsford homeless advocate killed by RCMP in Lytton

Barry Shantz spearheaded getting harm-reduction services in city, changing bylaws around homeless

SLIDESHOW: Vancouver Motorcycle Show back in Abbotsford

Annual event runs all weekend long on Tradex

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

Surrey tells Uber to cease operations in city, but company ‘respectfully’ declines

Ridesharing company told to stop operating within the city by 9 p.m. Jan. 24

Coronavirus concerns cause cancellation of Langley Lunar New Year celebration

Close to 1,000 were expected to attend the annual Live In Langley event on Saturday

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Most Read