Abbotsford homeless campers pack up and leave park
Police watched as supporters helped gather belongings, but campers vow to relocate to another spot
People who were living in a homeless camp in a city park in Abbotsford, B.C., are now looking for new places to stay.
The city won a court injunction allowing police to forcibly remove the campers from Jubilee Park by 4 p.m. PT this afternoon.
Many of those staying in the camp were already packing up Saturday morning, and didn't offer much resistance to the court order.
"The city got their way, the people are out of the park," said Pastor Ward Draper, executive director of 5 and 2 Ministries.
Draper said a couple of positive outcomes came from the city's action, including the offer of permanent housing that was made to at least two women who had been homeless in the camp, but the crisis is not over for many of the campers.
"This is not ideal because we still have people with no place to go," he said.
The local Salvation Army shelter opened extra shelter beds to meet the additional demand expected due to the shut-down of the Jubilee Park camp, but Draper was not certain that all the campers would choose the shelter.
He said some were determined to set up camp on another piece of city property.
Abbotsford Salvation Army shelter spokeswoman Deb Lowell said she understands some people have concerns about shelters.
"We try as much as possible to have a dignified space and respect privacy and all of that, but at the end of the day we are living in close quarters with one another and for some people that is a challenge," she said.
The city of Abbotsford has a bylaw that bans people from sleeping in public parks, and is now trying to apply for a court order to have anyone who violates that bylaw charged and arrested.
The battle between the city of Abbotsford and its homeless population has been raging on for months. The issue made headlines this summer when city workers dumped chicken manure at one homeless camp in an effort to drive out the residents.
Last month camp organizers announced plans to sue the city.
With files from the CBC's Farrah Merali
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