Print Edition: February 26, 2014
“A roof for all.”
“We can do better.”
“People over money!”
These were some of the slogans displayed on homemade placards at the February 24 rally outside City Hall. Protesters gathered at City Hall in response to Abbotsford Council’s February 17 decision against the development of a low-barrier housing unit on Montvue Avenue. The housing development would have provided shelter for up to 20 homeless men at a time, but conflicted with the City’s zoning bylaws and was met with concerns about neighbourhood decay from the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association.
Approximately 300 Abbotsford residents braved the snow and sub-zero temperatures to express their dissatisfaction with Council’s decision. Supporters of the failed housing project wore neon green, fleece scarves to demonstrate their solidarity, signed petitions, and wrote their names on an enormous canvas which, according to the rally’s Facebook page, had almost 600 signatures at last count.
A circle of First Nations singers and drummers provided a focal point for the gathering, and several prominent members of the community, including Councillors Henry Braun, Dave Loewen, Patricia Ross, and Moe Gill, spoke to the crowd, urging solidarity and compassion while expressing their hope for similar housing projects in the future.
Ward Draper, founder and executive director of 5 and 2 Ministries, a Christian outreach group which provides care for the homeless population of Abbotsford, was pleased with the turnout.
“I’m extremely impressed with the response to this rally,” he said. “It’s nice to see how much support there is in the community for the lasting change this city so desperately needs.”