City of Abbotsford bylaw officers work down at the Gladys Ave. homeless camp, speaking with people still at the site, where B.C. Hydro crews cleared the campsite just weeks prior. Though the area has largely remained vacant, a few shopping carts and tents continue to pop up at the location. (Dustin Godfrey/Abbotsford News)

Abbotsford cops confirm 1st tickets issued over Gladys homeless camp

Tickets came day after pedestrian fatally struck on Gladys Avenue near homeless camp in July

The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) has confirmed it issued its first trespassing tickets to campers after years of homeless encampments on a portion of Gladys Avenue.

A short stretch of Gladys Avenue, outside the Salvation Army, has been home to campers for years, with a contentious history with the city that peaked in the summer of 2013 when city workers sprayed chicken manure on the camp.

While the camp has largely continued since that incident, recent action by BC Hydro – which owns the land – with some support from the APD has left the land mostly vacant for over a month.

Police spokesperson Sgt. Judy Bird confirmed in an email earlier this month that three tickets were handed out on July 26 for camping in a no-trespass area, though one ticket was rescinded after an occupant decided to pack up and leave.

“APD can, however, assist in enforcing municipal, provincial and federal statutes. In this case, we would assist in enforcing trespassing on BC Hydro property and will instruct people to leave,” Bird said in the email.

Bird said the three tickets were the first tickets ever handed out at that space for trespassing.

Another APD spokesperson, Const. Jody Thomas, said tickets are one tool to gain compliance, adding that, often, people who can’t pay tickets will still comply after receiving a ticket, because they don’t want to constantly be running into enforcement officials.

Since that time, the homeless camp has been mostly vacant, with only the odd tent or shopping cart appearing on the property.

Grace Unruh, who has been homeless since January but did not live at the Gladys camp, appeared torn about the evictions. The clearing of the area came just a day after an occupant was struck and killed by a commercial vehicle on Gladys Avenue near the camp.

“It’s probably a good idea, right? Because it’s not safe to have people hanging on the side of the road. It’s a pretty busy road. People go racing through there. I’m surprised something didn’t happen maybe sooner,” Unruh said.

“Puts your life in your hands when you cross the street. … It makes me really angry. It makes me worried about my friends, right?” she added, also noting the train tracks at the space.

Indeed, a BC Hydro spokesperson also cited a “significant concern for the safety of those camping on the property” as a reason for the action.

“Given the close proximity to an active railway line, as well as certain activities, such as having open flame near wooden 69-kilovolt transmission poles – this is why we continue to work with the campers and Abbotsford community leaders to address unsafe activity,” said Tanya Fish, adding the plan to remove campers has been working since 2016, including the implementation of no-trespass signs.

On the other hand, Unruh said the constant displacement is exhausting for people who are experiencing homelessness.

“I haven’t been affected by that entirely, but I’ve seen what it’s done to my friends, and it’s daily. Daily, daily, daily they’ve got to pack up, got to move, got to clean it up, got to go. From here to there, from there to here. Can’t be here, can’t be there,” she said, questioning where one can go when they have nowhere else beyond their campsite.

“One fellow lost his heart medication and his money and stuff just thrown out,” Unruh said. “A lot of them miss lunch and that because they can’t go, because they don’t want to lose their stuff.”

Still, with the city taking on a more collaborative and proactive approach with local homeless, Unruh said she’s optimistic that the issue will see some relief in the months and years to come.

“I think there’s going to be some good things happening, for sure. There was a meeting I had heard that happened that people were really pleased with, and there’s going to be … some work towards finding a solution, for sure.”

Report a typo or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

MPs meet with Surrey council to discuss RCMP, LRT

Federal government to have quarterly meetings with Surrey

Hogg curious if a new recreation centre is needed in Grandview Hights

South Surrey-White Rock MP to host a Town Hall Meeting tonight

Surrey building that has gathered dust for 20 years is for sale again, with bids sought

Potential sale of the long-vacant 104 Avenue Centre is good news, Surrey Board of Trade CEO says

Fluterrific returning to North Delta Rec Centre

The annual flute concert will showcase music from all genres on Sunday, Nov. 18

WATCH: Goalie from North Delta scores in AHL hockey game

Tristan Jarry makes history for Penguins by hitting an empty net

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

B.C. dog owner sues after pet killed in beaver trap

A Kamloops man is suing the operator of a trapline north of the city after his dog died

Heading soccer balls can cause damage to brain cells: UBC study

Roughly 42 per cent of children in the country play soccer, according to statistics from Heritage Canada

Supreme Court hears case on migrant detainees’ rights to challenge incarceration

Currently, migrants who do not hold Canadian citizenship can only challenge detention through an immigration tribunal or a judicial review.

Canada Post issues new offer to employees as eBay calls on Ottawa to end strikes

Ebay is calling on the federal government to legislate an end to the Canada Post contract dispute, warning that quick action is needed to ensure retailers don’t lose out on critical Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

No G20 member has climate plan strong enough to meet Paris targets: report

Canada’s push to be a world leader in the fight against climate change may be hampered by its distinction for producing the most greenhouse gas emissions per person among the world’s 20 largest economies.

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. teacher suspended 5 days for touching colleague’s buttocks

Lancer Kevin Price of Chilliwack has handed the retroactive suspension for 2017 incidents

Most Read