British Columbia

Abbotsford homeless camp shelters taken down by city

Crews from the City of Abbotsford moved in early this morning to take down wooden structures erected at a homeless camp overnight.

Organizers argue the camp should be left alone until residents have somewhere else to live

Residents at a homeless protest camp in Abbotsford have been battling the city over their right to camp. (CBC)
Crews from the City of Abbotsford moved in early this morning to take down wooden structures erected at a homeless camp overnight.

At around  5 a.m. PT Tuesday morning, crews dismantled two wooden structures erected in a camp in front of the Menonite Central Committee.

According to camp organizer Barry Shantz, the city also took away the other wood they had.

Last year the group was removed from Jubilee Park after the city received a court injunction to do so, but they have since launched a legal challenge, arguing they have a right to camp on city property.

Shantz acknowledges their camp is on city property, but says they should be left alone until they have somewhere to live.

"People have a right to live somewhere," said Shantz.

Despite losing their structures, Shantz says they'll continue to sleep in the camp until they see what they call real change in shelter spaces in Abbotsford.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman has long contended the conditions are not safe in the temporary camps and that extra shelter space has been created.

No shelter in Surrey this winter

Meanwhile in Surrey,  a staff report went to council last night, saying despite looking at 17 different locations, the city was unable to find a suitable place for a temporary winter shelter.

This is the second year in a row Surrey will not operate a temporary winter shelter,

City councillor Judy Villeneuve said in the absence of the 24-hour shelter,  the city has increased the number of outreach workers. The city saw results last winter, with on average four more people a month finding housing, she added.

"Even though there is not a temporary facility, the outreach workers have been more proactive and have been able to house people on a more permanent basis, and I think that's been the goal of the city," Villeneuve said.

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