Homeless in Vancouver: A modest proposal for Christmas in Abbotsford

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      Last night it was a bit colder for homeless people in Vancouver than in Abbotsford, but I’m only referring to the temperature.

      Abbotsford is being plenty cold to its homeless people—and at Christmas time to boot. For shame!

      Tomorrow morning (December 20), a B.C. Supreme Court judge is expected to rule whether or not to grant an injunction ordering a group of 20 or so homeless people to clear out of Jubilee Park and an adjacent parking lot in downtown Abbotsford.

      The City argued in a New Westminster court on Tuesday for a sweeping injunction not only to clear out the camp but to also keep homeless people out of parks and other city-owned spaces across Abbotsford.

      The "Shitty City in the Country” is trying to solve its homeless problem by forcing all of its estimated 117 street people to simply leave town.

      It’s my understanding that the Jubilee Park homeless have vacated the parking lot with its cozy wooden windbreak and have returned to the exposed edge of the park—the city having very meanly blocked off the sheltered part.

      No matter what happens on Friday morning, Abbotsford’s homeless will still be out in the cold.

      Abbotsford could display both its homeless and its Christian values this Christmas

      I don’t have the long-term solution, but I do have a modest proposal; one to at least could help tide the Jubilee Park group over the Christmas holidays. Given that they live outside in a strongly Christian community, I think it’s a good fit.

      The Jubilee Park homeless group should hire themselves out as a Christmas Nativity scene.

      I know—why didn’t anyone else think of this? It’s perfect.

      There’s a large enough cast of characters. The homeless could take turns acting out the main parts; otherwise they could just mill about to add “local colour” and keep warm. Their clothes may be raggedy enough that they don’t need much in the way of costumes.

      And what are we talking about? Some sheets and blankets, a few hay bales. A small orange crate and a baby doll (a Chihuahua would work in a pinch). Perhaps a cow or two. And, of course, an assortment of lights: floods, multi-colour Christmas lights, and some of the flickery kind that mimic candles.

      I think the property owner who engages their services should provide the lights and the whole manger-set thing—and electricity, of course. Wi-Fi could be negotiable (@manger: “will trade myrr 4 MJ!!!).

      Ideally it would be the City of Abbotsford who hires them. Imagine the heart-warming scenes as Abbotsford’s citizens watch their very own homeless perform a living re-enactment of the story of the Nativity right in front of City Hall: Mary and Joseph—all their possessions in a shopping cart, no room at the inn, the birth of Jesus, the Three Wise Men—I’m teary-eyed just thinking about it.

      And, yes—Abbotsford does have a City Hall.

      On a personal note, I’d like to extend season’s greetings to three of Abbotsford’s top public officials:

      Dear Mayor Bruce Banman, Chief Constable Bob Rich, and City Manager George Murray:

      Hi guys. After each of you gets your present from Santa, consider giving your lump of coal— all you should get, or deserve—to the Jubilee Park homeless; they could use the warmth.

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer.


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      David Scott Flynn

      Dec 21, 2013 at 1:44am

      Enough already. I have to work for what I have. I get no free rides. I pay rent/taxes in the city for that land for me and everyone else to use based on bylaws that are set up by elected reps. The pictures I've seen of the homeless don't create any "oh, its so sad" feelings from me. They are druggies, and lazy. Get out of town, or get a job and pay your way. I'm sick of this. Hey, author - if you don't mind, we can have them camp in your yard...I mean, you care so much...let them stay in your front yard. Or maybe couch surf at your place? That's not too much to ask, is it?

      Stanley Q Woodvine

      Dec 22, 2013 at 1:42pm

      Gosh, I wasn't aware homeless people are all drug addicts or all lazy. I certainly don't want to share my parkade with people like that!

      Andrew Tonner

      Dec 25, 2013 at 3:12am

      Let Mr. Flynn's comment be a lesson: When you stereotype people, whether positively or negatively, you've put your own understanding of important details at risk.