An Abbotsford restaurateur says a nearby homeless camp is affecting his business.
Joe Paliotti, who own’s Paliotti’s Italian Restaurant, says he has had to hire a parking attendant to ensure customers are comfortable leaving their cars in the lot that sits between his business and a homeless camp erected in September in a vacant lot.
Paliotti’s restaurant and the camp share a small triangular block bordered by Gladys Avenue, Cyril Street and Essendene Avenue in downtown Abbotsford. The camp is an outgrowth of the protest encampment that has taken over the opposite side of Gladys Avenue.
He says the camp has posed several challenges since it was established.
“Not only is it the visuals, but you smell it in the air,” he said. There have also been noises that have disturbed customers.
“It’s constantly one thing or another.”
Paliotti feels the city is trying to help those in the camp, but said those living on the lot don’t want shelter.
“In Canada, nobody should be on our streets, and the city is trying to get them off the street,” he said.
Paliotti said he also recently had a $6,000 char-broiler that was being repaired stolen from his lot.
“My mistake,” he said. “I left it out there and thought, who’s going to steal it?”
He speculates it was stolen for the scrap metal value.
The camp was erected in mid-September by activists unhappy when a park site was shut down by the city.
The property is partially owned by the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association and the city, with the city-owned portions covered in uneven mounds of gravel.
The city said in September that it wouldn’t remove campers from the site because it was considered an extention of the Gladys Avenue protest camp.
Since then, the B.C. Supreme Court has ruled that the homeless have a right to camp overnight on city-owned land, but must take shelters down during the day.
– with files from Laura Rodgers