BRITISH COLUMBIA

Abbotsford Homeless Camp Eviction Notice Gives 48 Hours

09/11/2013 03:54 EDT

Residents of a homeless camp in Abbotsford have less than 24 hours to vacate after the city issued an eviction notice on Tuesday.

The notice, nailed to trees at the camp on Gladys Avenue, gives residents until 8 a.m. Thursday to clear out before the city dismantles the site, CTV News reported.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told the network that the camp is being shut down for health and safety reasons.

"It’s deemed that it’s no longer a healthy environment for people to be at, and in addition to that it’s along a railway line. There are many, many reasons why this is not, in any way, a location for anyone to live," he said.

It's not certain what will happen to people who refuse to leave, but a number of residents remained in their tents on Wednesday morning, CBC News reported.

The eviction notice doesn't sit well with Ward Draper, a pastor at Abbotsford's 5 and 2 Ministries, who said the five-or-so permanent camp residents will just move to another vacant site nearby, The Vancouver Sun reported.

"We can't keep using human beings as soccer balls just because we don't agree with some choices or we don't agree with their circumstances," he told the newspaper.

Draper thinks the city should develop an Abbotsford version of Portland's Dignity Village, where residents live in small shacks with access to showers, toilets, gardens, electricity and the Internet.

"It is a great model. I'm confident we could translate that to this community," he said.

The eviction notice comes months after city workers dumped chicken manure on the site in an effort to move residents out.

Residents also alleged that police officers slashed their tents and doused their belongings with pepper spray.

The city manager and the mayor apologized for the manure dump, but residents said they planned to launch lawsuits and a human rights complaint against the city in response.

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