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  Saturday, Dec 9, 2017 

 

Editorial

The Homeless Homeless

Addicts given two days to vacate Townsend squat

By Editor

 

Mounties check out some local homeless in 2016.

 

n Friday, Patti MacAhonic, executive director of the Ann Davis Society, and frequent NDP election candidate, sent out a dispatch informing local media that in 2 days at the time of this writing, another homeless squat is going to be shut down.

 

Last week, a homeless camp set up alongside the Chilliwack River was disassembled. Reports at the time were that over 1000 injection needles were removed from the site.

 

According to MacAhonic, she learned of the situation yesterday via her outreach worker and questioned the logic behind the City's move to push out the homeless again.

 

"We just found out that the Townsend camp persons have been given eviction notices to be out with 3 days notice," wrote MacAhonic. "There is nowhere for them to go. If they leave with shopping carts with belongings the RCMP arrest them and take their belongings for having stolen shopping carts.

 

"Where are they supposed to go? This is inhumane. We would not do this to animals. SPCA would rescue animals, feed, shelter etc. We don’t do this for our own people," added MacAhonic.

 

In this case, at least squatters were given notice.

 

 

It's true addicts are citizens of Canada and deserve to be treated as human beings. In a country as rich as this, it's imperative the government help them. But some will argue that addicts need to show the same respect to the communities  and not bite the hands that feeds them.

 

Even on a good day these makeshift squats look worse than Calcutta slums.

 

Homeless are like ISIS, if you attack them on one front they pop up in another.

 

Some months ago after a council meeting, The Voice had a brief discussion with Mayor Sharon Gaetz regarding quick fixes for the burgeoning homeless situation.


Back in the late 70s, when "freak" was a cool word, downtown Jasper, Alberta, was inundated with people of the "hippie" types who sat around town watching the myriads of tourists going by and vice versa.

Council of the day voted that in order to "clean-up" the downtown an obvious choice was to give them some place else to go.

 

 

So a strip of the parkland dubbed "free (k) camp" adjacent to the Athabasca River was designated for the "hippies" to set up camp and live there for the summer. There was even a mayor,

 

There were no outhouses. They ate in one place and defecated in another.

 

When presented with this idea, Gaetz was less than affable with that notion as a remedy.

 

"Well, those were hippies," she said indicating that they were more peaceful in nature those days compared to the street-hardened drug users communities currently face.

 

Fast forward 40 years and cities are inundated with surly addicts stoned out of their gourds on anything they can get their hands on.

 

Another part of the abbreviated conversation with Gaetz revolved around quick housing fixes such as steel shipping containers. A perfunctory search online shows how different configurations can be used.

 

In Chilliwack, the City brought in porta-potties at Five Corners but that didn't last long and business owners are back out with shovels in the morning.

 

Chilliwack is BC's 7th largest city. If that data is correct then the city is also 7th in the province for homeless drug users. Unfortunately, the city leads Canada in crimes against the community.

 

 

You won't find many bleeding hearts here. Residents hold their kids close while out doing their business downtown.

 

Most permanent residents are fed up with the sweeping crime these homeless vagabonds inflict on the community.

 

During daylight hours it's ugly. The sometimes acrimonious "druggies" huddle together in the doorways of any vacant building and storefront available, inhaling drugs off scraps of tin foil through glass pipes with sullen happiness, much of the time under the watchful eyes of local cops.

 

Some of the addicts detox in plain view, walking down the street screaming or hunched over rocking back and forth muttering to themselves and passersby.

 

It's not clear what the police are expected to do with them. One of the things they're paid to do is make sure the addicts aren't hurting themselves or others.

 

Many have cell phones they use to call their dealers. Injection needles are a commodity sold or traded for illicit drugs.

 

Police know that if they arrest them jails will be busting at the seams with non-violent drug addicts all in a state of detoxifying.

 

 

At night, downtown Chilliwack streets are for the most part void of addicts. A few race around on bicycles but most undoubtedly head back to their tents and makeshift shelters at various bush camps within walking distance of downtown.

 

It's fair to say that after a trip to the food bank they lounge around patting full tummies with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. It's unclear how they can afford to smoke.

 

In Maple Ridge, activists recently won an eviction of homeless from "Anita's Place."

 

"Last week, Anita Place tent city defeated the second application of the City of Maple Ridge for a Supreme Court injunction to break up their 7-month old camp. The City tried to spin their defeat as a decision to change course from their consistently failed efforts to smash the camp with force, sabotage it with neglect, and displace it with legal action, but campers believe the City has retreated in the face of the power of united and organized homeless communities. However, this victory, while significant against the alternative of constant police and bylaw displacement and public humiliation, is not the end-goal of Anita Place – which formed around the slogan “homes not shelters," said Ivan Drury, Alliance Against Displacement.

 

Even if it's only a temporary solution, the City has to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and do something about it because this is just the beginning as more and more addicts are being squeezed out of the Greater Vancouver Regional District and up the Fraser Valley. The next – and last destination in the Lower Mainland is benevolent Chilliwack where patience is running thin and residents are less cordial than they've been in the past.

 


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