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Updated: Tue, 26 Nov 2013 23:09:23 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Manure on homeless camp leads to Abbotsford lawsuit



Residents at the homeless protest camp in Jubilee Park are refusing to leave, despite threats of an injunction from the City of Abbotsford. CBC

Residents at the homeless protest camp in Jubilee Park are refusing to leave, despite threats of an injunction from the City of Abbotsford. CBC

Homeless people and protesters are launching a human rights complaint against the City of Abbotsford after chicken manure was spread on a camp earlier this year.

The move comes only one day after Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told homeless campers in the city's Jubilee Park they had 48 hours to leave, citing nightly ceremonial fires and possible drug overdoses as safety risks.

The campers, some of whom have been in the park for 37 days, say they are trying to bring attention to the way drug addicted and homeless people have been treated in Abbotsford.

So the B.C./Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, the group behind the camp, and six homeless individuals have announced they plan to sue the city and the Abbotsford Police.

In a news release, Pivot Legal Society’s D.J. Larkin, who is representing the group, cited previous incidents in which Abbotsford officials smeared chicken manure on a homeless camp and police allegedly slashed and bear sprayed tents and property earlier this year.

Barry Shantz, 57, founder of the Abbotsford chapter of the B.C./Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, says he's spent time living on the streets.

"It's obvious the city isn't going to take care of us, it's obvious the province isn't, feds aren't. Nobody wants to deal with this group of people."

The association is a grassroots organization of current and former drug users formed in 2009 to improve the lives of people who use illegal drugs through peer support and education.

Abbotsford officials say they are considering replacing the 16 tents set up in the park with permanent structures and are heading to Portland to see how their 'dignity camp' works.

But Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman says the camp is a safety issue, and it's got to go.

"Since the weather turned cold we now have people using open barbecues, open heaters, candles, the tents and clumped together, this is a real fire hazard," said Banman.

"There's not that many that are really homeless in that particular camp. So we will work with them to make sure we find them a place."

Shantz says 30 to 40 people are sleeping at Jubilee Park each night and many of them are homeless and have nowhere to go.

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