June 4, 2023

The province is working with the Metropolis of Abbotsford and numerous nonprofits to “clear up” what Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon describes as a “very problematic” camp of homeless individuals residing on an empty piece of Crown land.

Over the previous few years, what was to change into Lonzo Park and Journey has change into residence to many individuals in want of shelter. The bottom is now coated in tents, coated constructions, outdated wagons and garbage.

“I had the chance to be there, on web site with the mayor, and to be trustworthy, we don’t suppose it’s secure for the residents and we don’t suppose it’s secure for society as an entire,” Kahlon mentioned in an interview with World Information. Tuesday.

“We’ve got a few weeks to announce our subsequent steps on this.”

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The housing minister’s feedback got here only a day after the caravan used as a shelter burned down. Nobody was injured within the hearth, however Abbotsford Police mentioned smoke and flames contributed to a multi-vehicle collision involving a semi-trailer on Freeway 1.

In an emailed assertion, police described Lonzo’s camp as “essentially the most violent” within the metropolis. It says that companies within the space are “every day victims of theft” and drug use on their property, and the incidents are getting worse.

The camp seized knives, axes, bear spray, machetes, actual and imitation firearms, and ammunition.

Police have mentioned since 2015 that the variety of violent crime calls close to the situation has almost quadrupled, from 31 to 119 in 2022. There have been 37 violent crime calls and 686 requires assist in the world this 12 months.

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Chief Const added that firemen from Abbotsford are not allowed to go there with out the police. Mike Serr.

This is only one place that basically requires lots of assets. It is simply due to the extent of threats that come up right here, with the inhabitants who’re right here, who threaten the employees, ”he instructed World Information.

“The issue for us is that we’ve got little management. As you recognize, these are the lands of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.”

So far, Abbotsford Police haven’t acquired a provincial request for help in clearing the camp.

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure postponed Kahlon’s request for touch upon the story.

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Abbotsford Mayor Ross Siemens mentioned he has reached out to each Transport and Infrastructure and BC’s housing sector because the province “is not going to evict individuals from the camp until housing is offered.” He known as for quick motion as camp residents have psychological well being and dependancy points that have to be addressed and can’t be compelled to stay in “squalor”.

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These are people who find themselves significantly unwell. We want extra assist,” Siemens mentioned in an interview.

“It is irritating, however it’s troublesome throughout the province… The longer it takes, the extra the camp will get fortified and the tougher the issues change into.”

The mayor mentioned there are seven such camps alongside Freeway 1 which can be within the province, however none current the identical stage of problem as Lonzo Park and Journey.

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World Information requested for interviews from a number of camp residents, however nobody agreed.

Sophie Jankowski, a waitress on the CrossRoads restaurant throughout the road, mentioned she hopes the province may even reply shortly. She defined that the employees of the restaurant needed to clear up the rubbish left by the residents of the campsite every day and infrequently clear up the loafers.

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“A whole lot of clients are actually complaining and blaming us,” Jankowski instructed World Information. “In actual fact, typically it is extremely unhealthy. Within the morning they are going to accumulate at our door, and even on wet days they are going to attempt to accumulate underneath the entrance of the door.

Jankowski mentioned she was attacked by a camp resident who used the restroom of the restaurant. She mentioned the lady locked herself within the rest room and after being requested to go away, the lady tried to strangle her, tore her garments and broke her necklace.

“It was actually terrible,” she recalled. “It positively makes me really feel just a little extra embarrassed and nervous about being on this state of affairs once more.”

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Christine Mackie of the Fraser Well being Authority mentioned that none of her employees or healthcare staff on web site reported any violence towards them. The well being authority contracts with Lookout Housing and Well being Society to function an overdose prevention heart close to Camp Lonzo.

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“You may’t truly be homeless and be wholesome, and naturally substance use taking part in a job in that simply creates an entire completely different downside for individuals,” Mackie mentioned.

“We simply wish to forestall demise and supply individuals with companies that may profit their lives.”

Regardless that there’s a social housing construction close to the camp, they’re full. Kahlon mentioned the province just lately funded 480 new items of transitional housing, supportive housing and extra in Abbotsford, along with shopping for two motels to accommodate individuals indoors within the brief time period.

“We all know we have to do extra,” he mentioned. “Poverty is expensive and it’s important that we construct housing, present individuals with the elemental assist they want, as a result of should you don’t, society will incur extra prices.”

Editor’s Observe: That is the corrected story. In a earlier model, the Abbotsford Police Chief’s final identify was misspelled. Mike Serr.

© 2023 World Information, a division of Corus Leisure Inc.

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