EDITORIAL: End occupation of park

A “protest” camp established in Jubilee Park more than a month ago has gone beyond its initial claim of raising awareness...

A “protest” camp established in Jubilee Park more than a month ago has gone beyond its initial claim of raising awareness of local homelessness.

After weeks of tolerating about 30 people living in the park, the City of Abbotsford has had to resort to seeking a court order to clear the public site, since the occupants were given 48-hours notice to vacate last Wednesday, but refused.

There is no question that the manner in which homelessness in Abbotsford was thrust into the public spotlight in June was deplorable – with city crews spreading chicken manure on a popular camp.

Since then, however, there has been considerable dialogue about the issue, as well as a viable, provincially funded proposal for a men’s shelter in the downtown area.

However, the protest in Jubilee Park has become an occupation, with the Abbotsford chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors clearly determined to continue an increasingly strident message.

We agree solutions for the homeless must be found.

The city could and should have taken a more pro-active approach to this point. It still can show problem-solving initiative.

However, the occupants of Jubilee Park have overstayed their welcome and are straining public empathy. No one else would be allowed to pitch a tent and light a campfire in a downtown park.

This is a public space. Numerous residents have said they now avoid taking their children there. That’s not right.

The camp contravenes the city’s parks bylaw, and numerous safety concerns and incidents of criminal activity, including open drug use and fire safety violations, have been cited by authorities.

The city has taken appropriate action by seeking a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to clear the camp.

We expect the court to grant it.