Abbotsford homeless camp Saturday deadline passes

People living in a sheltered homeless camp on a parking lot near Abbotsford's Jubilee Park were told they would have until Saturday afternoon to strike camp, and move back into the unsheltered park.

But the court-ordered 4:30 p.m. PT deadline came and went, with no immediate enforcement from the city.

The campers moved from the park on Wednesday after supporters built a plywood-covered fence structure around the parking lot. The plywood walls were intended to provide shelter from the wind chill.

A city order to vacate the lot, remove their belongings and stop construction on the plywood lean-to was upheld in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster Friday.

Pivot Legal Society lawyer DJ Larkin, who is representing the group, said the campers had nowhere else to go, and that if they move back into the adjacent park, they will have to look back at the wooden fence that helped keep them warm these past few days.

"I'm sure you can understand that this is such a difficult thing for them to come to terms with... 'I was warm and dry yesterday and they told me I had to leave,' but that is essentially the order," she said.

Larkin also said the homeless campers wouldn't be able to go back to the exact same park site they occupied before.

"I am informed the City did construct a fence around a lot of Jubilee Park after the individuals moved into the structure," she said. "I have now found out a good chunk of the park where people were living is now fenced-in and they don't have access to it."

On Tuesday, Larkin will be back in court asking for an interim injunction that will allow the protesters to stay in Jubilee Park until the matter can get a full hearing in a trial. The City of Abbotsford will be seeking to have the wood structure removed from the lot, and to have the homeless camp removed from the park.

Between 25 and 40 homeless people and protesters have been living in Jubilee Park since October. In September, the city ordered homeless campers to vacate a makeshift camp on Gladys Avenue.

Earlier this year, advocates and campers complained after police allegedly slashed tents and bear-sprayed an encampment in Abbotsford, and after the city had chicken manure spread around a site that was being used as a homeless camp.

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