Abbotsford facing legal action for attempts to chase away homeless people
The City of Abbotsford may have issued an apology for dumping chicken manure near a gathering place for the homeless – but that won’t prevent a lawsuit.
Pivot Legal Society has agreed to represent approximately 10 people in a civil suit against the city. They allege that tents and belongings were destroyed by city workers, part of the action taken by the city to stop the homeless and drug users from camping near a Salvation Army.
“People had everything damaged from tents and structures they live in to family photos, their only memorabilia, some of their most precious items,” Pivot lawyer D.J. Larkin says.
In addition, Pivot is considering bringing forward a human rights complaint.
The area next to Gladys Road had become a place where homeless people and drug users had congregated. According to newly released emails, Abbotsford’s roads, bylaws, and parks departments all approved the plan to spread manure around one prominent tree next to the Salvation Army, called “the Honey tree” in internal emails.
Advocate James Breckenridge, who was the whistleblower about the manure dump, has seen the alleged emails.
“It made it pretty clear that the attitudes run from the very top of city hall that the homeless are a vermin infestation that you need to clean the city out of,” says Breckenridge.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman and city manager George Murray have apologized for the decision and the police department in conducting an internal investigation.
But Pivot says it’s not enough.
“We’re happy the city apologized, that’s a great first step, but the apology doesn’t make up for years and years of harassment and destruction of property.”