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UPDATE: Protesters ordered to vacate McCallum Road structure by Saturday afternoon
The city of Abbotsford has been granted an injunction requiring all those occupying a wooden structure on McCallum Road to vacate by 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, but says no action will be taken until another court hearing on Tuesday.
The city went to court Friday to call for homeless protesters who are living within the walls, which were erected overnight Wednesday in a parking lot next to Jubilee Park, to leave the structure.
The structure was built in a city parking lot next to the homeless protest camp that previously spent more than 50 days in Jubilee Park.
Justice Blok of the B.C. Supreme Court granted the injunction late on Friday, which calls for all with knowledge of the order to leave the structure Saturday and not to undertake any further construction, alteration or work on the structure.
It also states that all must remove and cease from erecting tents, shelters or structures, other than the current wooden one, on the parking lot lands.
Notice to the protesters and occupiers will be given Saturday morning.
A media release from the city states that Justice Blok expressed his approval of the city “seeking orderly resolution of this matter in court,” adding that “people associated with the defendants saw fit to escalate the trespass while next week’s court date was pending.”
The city is set to seek an additional injunction on Tuesday in relation to the Jubilee Park camp – in a hearing that was originally scheduled for Monday – which would require the protesters to cease occupying that park and other city parkland.
Jubilee Park has been closed to the public and fences have been erected around the site. The city blocked off the parking lot where the structure is located.
Police are present at the site and security cameras have been set up.
Ward Draper of 5 and 2 Ministries, an organization that works with homeless people in Abbotsford, said the current situation is unfortunate.
"The parking lot situation to me is just a very tragic situation for everyone involved."
While the structure is the new site of the protest, organized by the Abbotsford chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors, Draper said he thinks no more than 12 people remain.
The city filed notice for occupants of the original camp to vacate Jubilee Park on Nov. 25, calling for it to be cleared in 48 hours. After the protesters did not leave, the city applied to the court for an injunction to clear the park and arrest those who do not comply with the order.
That hearing will proceed Tuesday in the New Westminster courthouse.
The new structure will become part of the city's application for injunction to the courts, which will call for the structure and tents to be cleared from parks and city land.
Draper said the structure in the parking lot is "probably not the best expression (of discontent)… but we are dealing with some hurting people that are looking for a way to be heard instead of being chased around. It's just really disappointing to see."
While concerned about the effect of the protest, he is also troubled by the city's response.
"I feel it's just a really poor response to a desperate situation for a group of very hurt individuals that really need more caring and empathetic responses instead of these … blockade approaches."
Draper said that he is unsure what will happen after Tuesday's hearing.
"There are no winners in this situation."
Draper also said he hopes residents of Abbotsford do not feel discontented by the protest.
"Don't paint all the homeless with the same brush over this protest. Don't paint all the service providers with one brush. Just get out and get vocal and encourage your civic government to do something."
Draper noted that while he understands the necessity of provincial and federal assistance for the homeless, the city needs to take concrete steps towards potential solutions.
He said that ideas have been brought forward, like his organization's idea to create a sanctioned homeless camp similar to Portland's Dignity Village, or Abbotsford Community Services' proposal for a 20-man housing project.
"Our service providers want to do something… we have viable options, we are just waiting for the city to say 'yes, that's a really good plan.'"