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Could campsites help address homelessness in Abbotsford?

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS1130) – It’s far from a perfect solution, but a pastor in Abbotsford says a semi-permanent campsite could help address the homelessness problem in his city.

5 and 2 Ministries Executive Director Ward Draper says Abbotsford could base its model on Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon, a place where people can live for up to two years.

“It’s about 100 feet by 75 feet and it has about 50 to 60 residents living in 10 by 10 dwellings made out of recyclable material,” says Draper. “They have basic sanitation with port-o-potties and internet access.”

Mayor Bruce Banman says he’s open to the idea. “That’s an interesting concept and we’re willing to look at that and see whether or not we can look at a viable solution.”

“We’ll take a look at what other cities — Portland and Seattle — have done and learn from their wisdom,” he adds.

Abbotsford has come under fire for its treatment of homeless people since chicken manure was scattered over a campsite on Gladys Avenue earlier this summer. That forced the handful of people who called that site their home to pick up and move about a hundred feet down the road.

Last week, the City ordered them off of the new campsite, so they packed up and moved back to the original site where the chicken manure had been spread.

Draper says there a number of makeshift homeless camps around Abbotsford and other communities throughout the Lower Mainland. He believes the vast majority of the people who live in those camps would be willing to move into a place that is similar to Dignity Village.