Abbotsford squatters were creating a safety hazard 0
Nick Zurowski, who has allegedly been harassed by police stands by his possession in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Monday June 17, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)
Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day.
This week’s topic:
Is the city of Abbotsford right to evict residents of a homeless camp?
After last week’s discussion of launching air strikes at Syria, Laila must be relieved for the opportunity to bolster her left-wing bona fides by defending homeless squatters in Abbotsford.
The issue is perfect for a bleeding heart liberal. On one side you have the big bad City of Abbotsford, which is accused of harassing a small group of homeless. As one activist in Abbotsford wrote this summer, the city is waging an ongoing war, driving people from one camp to another like “nuisance animals.”
On the other side, you have the downtrodden homeless who are the victims of life, each with their own story of despair.
Laila argues Abbotsford is treating the homeless — who were illegally camped out — like a cosmetic issue. I disagree. The encampment in question was a safety hazard for those living there and for the community at large. According to the city and media coverage, the camp was filled with garbage, with used needles lying around and open drug use. In fact, in a Global BC story the day before the eviction, one camp “resident” had no problem lighting up his crack pipe with a blowtorch for the camera. The city had every right to shut down this illegal camp.
I am not heartless. Homelessness is a serious problem, not only in Abbotsford, but across B.C. According to a 2008 report by researchers at Simon Fraser University, there are nearly 12,000 absolutely homeless people in the province. These homeless are adults struggling with such issues as addictions and mental illness. I agree more resources should be found to help those who wish to be helped. We can and should do a better job providing mental health services for those who need it. And for those who suffer from serious drug addiction, more services should be made available as well.
However, not everyone who is homeless wants help. The sad reality is many homeless do not want to take responsibility for their lives and clean up their act. They are making a lifestyle choice. If we were to provide a home for every single homeless person in the province, but make that home contingent upon enrolment and continued participation in drug treatment, lifestyle education and skills training, I believe we would find many would choose the streets over the helping hand.
I’m all in favour of providing more services, provided the homeless do their part as well.
Brent Stafford is a veteran television news-documentary producer and marketing specialist. You can watch his show at ShakyPolitics.com.
Who wins this week's duel about Abbotsford evicting the homeless?