I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

WTF, Abbotsford?

I knew the Fraser Valley was conservative:  after all, Gramma lives there and no-one has ever called her inclusive or accepting!  However, I didn't think Abbotsford residents were heartless.  They certainly  sound  heartless to me.  For one thing,   they haven't protested a bylaw that's been in place since 2005.  The bylaw prohibits harm reduction services for addicts.   Not everyone approves of the bylaw, of course. In fact, there's a law suit in the offing.  

Three injection drug users filed a lawsuit Tuesday over an Abbotsford, B.C., bylaw that has banned harm-reduction services such as clean needle exchanges for the past eight years, arguing the prohibition violates their charter rights and needlessly puts them at risk. The lawsuit comes as councillors in the Fraser Valley community study the future of the bylaw, which health officials say is preventing them from providing harm reduction services in an area with some of the province’s highest rates of overdoses and infections of HIV and hepatitis C. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/drug-users-in-abbotsford-bc-sue-over-bylaw-that-bans-clean-needle-exchange/article12050284/ 

Moreover, Abbotsford employees  dumped chicken manure where homeless gather in an attempt to  - what?  Make the homeless magically disappear?    The City managers discussed this at length.

"Internal emails indicate that numerous City of Abbotsford departments took part in formulating a plan to dump chicken manure on a homeless camp last month. What's more, one email suggests the Salvation Army was aware of the plan to use fertilizer at the Gladys Avenue camp across the street from the charity's Centre of Hope. Managers from Abbotsford's bylaw, forestry, roads and parks departments shaped the plan, according to emails made public through a CBC freedom of information request."   http://www.abbotsfordtimes.com/story.html?id=8703896#ixzz2aC2FkJTq

(By the way, the Salvation Army denies it condoned or knew about the Drive Them Away With Shit plan. )

Moreover, Abbotsfordians say they will not support a proposed BC housing supportive recovery project - no matter the benefits of same to the community.  No matter what evidence is presented!  I'm not kidding! 

 Early July:The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) begins to circulate a petition against the proposed ACS housing project. Emails to ADBA members include inaccurate information regarding the nature and scope of the project. July 12: The ADBA presents at ASDAC, stating that there is no possible chance that they will support the housing project no matter what evidence of its benefit to the city is presented. Objections to their stance by ASDAC members are ignored.http://www.abbotsfordtoday.ca/a-crisis-of-conscience/

Therefore,  Abbotsford is facing another law suit.

Pivot Legal Society has agreed to represent approximately 10 people in a civil suit against the city. They allege that tents and belongings were destroyed by city workers, part of the action taken by the city to stop the homeless and drug users from camping near a Salvation Army. http://globalnews.ca/news/737370/abbotsford-being-sued-for-dumping-chicken-manure-to-chase-away-homeless-people/


Just in case you need your memory refreshed on the benefits of harm reduciton strategies, here's some information from the Vancouver sun.

A large body of scientific evidence demonstrates that Insite and other harm reduction programs, such as needle exchanges, are effective in reducing the harms associated with illicit drug use. Sadly, ideological debate about harm reduction continues, despite widespread agreement among health authorities, including the World Health Organization, that such programs are essential to the fight against HIV/AIDS and other drug-related harms
. http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/Evidence+trumps+ideology+over+public+health+benefits+Insite/8704065/story.html

 Or from Vancouver Coastal health:

"The fatal overdose rate in [Vancouver's Downtown Eastside] decreased by 35% after the opening of the SIF"… “Supervised injection facilities clearly have an important part to play in communities affected by injection drug use. “Brandon D L Marshall, M-J Milloy, Evan Wood, Julio S G Montaner, Thomas Kerr THE LANCET http://www.communityinsite.ca/science.html

  Does the City of Abbotsford and the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association realize the damage they're doing to their reputations?  Please help them make that realization:  Email them  - or phone them - and let them know. Ask them to live up to their "  city-wide initiative on diversity and inclusion that aims to build interfaith and intercultural connections and thereby reduces issues of social alienation, racism and discrimination."

Abbotsford Downtown Business Association

Telephone: (604) 850-6547
Fax: (604) 859-6507
Email: executive@downtownabbotsford.com

City of Abbotsford
Toll Free1-866-853-2281


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