LETTER: Location needed for street meals

I found myself sitting at Abbotsford Community Library thinking about the past, present and (hopefully) future of ...

It can’t be 10 years, can it?

I found myself sitting at Abbotsford Community Library thinking about the past, present and (hopefully) future of the meal the Downtown Street Ministry has been serving on Tuesday evenings at Calvin Presbyterian Church.

It wasn’t only because of location description – “behind the mall the Mad Butcher is in” – that Calvin Presbyterian made such a great location. The location itself – just off South Fraser Way on Bourquin – made it accessible to those who depend on free meals to eat.

However, Calvin Presbyterian has built a new church out along the Mission Highway.

Distance, darkness and danger make walking or bicycling along the Mission Highway to the new location a barrier for all but a handful of those who currently attend this Tuesday dinner.

So it is not surprising that the vote held several months ago was overwhelmingly in favour of finding another location somewhere more accessible to move to, rather than the new location.

The Downtown Street Ministry did not have to ask the diners about a preference, except the meal has always been about being welcomed with a genuine smile, about being recognized and addressed by name, about a relaxed, friendly atmosphere to gather and enjoy a good meal in.

What those who serve the meal put out is why people remain after the meal to help put away the tables and chairs.

It would have been easier for those serving the meal to not have asked, or having asked, ignored the outcome.

Since the strong expression of preference, the Downtown Street Ministry has been struggling to find a new location – plus or minus a few kilometres – that they can use to serve dinner Tuesday evening that does not present a barrier such as the Mission Highway.

No luck and time is not on their side.

James W Breckenridge