British Columbia

Abbotsford mayor reacts to B.C. Supreme Court decision in favour of homeless

The mayor of Abbotsford says he is mostly pleased with the B.C. Supreme Court ruling that allows homeless people to set up tents in city parks.

Homeless campers in Abbotsford have won their legal battle against the City of Abbotford

Residents at a homeless protest camp in Abbotsford have been battling the city over their right to set up tents in parks. (CBC)

The Mayor of Abbotsford says he is mostly pleased with the B.C. Supreme Court ruling that allows homeless people to set up tents in city parks — the ruling allows homeless people to set up shelter in public spaces between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.

"The ruling to me appears to be consistent with what is taking place in other jurisdictions," said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, referring to a 2008 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a similar bylaw in Victoria.

A group of homeless people — with the help of the Pivot Legal Society — launched a human rights complaint against the city after chicken manure was spread on a camp in 2013.

That was before Braun moved into his position as mayor, replacing Bruce Banman.

He said if he had been mayor at the time, things would've played out differently. 

"I, for sure would not have suggested or implied to anyone in this government to spread chicken manure — that is for sure," he said. 

Shelters coming

The City of Abbotsford has been criticized for not having enough shelter options available for those in need. 

Braun says they've made significant headway in the last year. 

"Council has approved 21-unit housing first project, it's the first one for men in Abbotsford," he said.

The project recently increased it's capacity to 31-units and construction is expected to start in a few months, he said. 

City staff are also working to use space that is already available to accommodate 40 people by Dec. 1. 

Braun says there are also options available through various faith groups in the city. 

"There should be no reason for anybody to pitch a tent in the park.

"Having said that, there are a number of people, not a large group but a handful, that don't want to be in any housing of any kind [...] They want to live in a tent in the bush and leave us alone, and I'm not sure how we deal with people who are afraid to come into a constructed building," he said. 

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Abbotsford mayor responds to homeless court decision with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.


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