New documents show Eby ignored serious warnings about Abbotsford homeless camp: BC United

THE BC United said on Tuesday that newly-obtained documents under Freedom of Information (FOI) show that Premier David Eby was formally warned about the extremely serious health and safety concerns at the Lonzo Park and Ride lot, now a homeless encampment — but he ignored and buried the disturbing briefing note, refusing to take action while serving as the Minister of Housing.

“I have reached out to Premier Eby and have made multiple requests for the NDP government to step in and clear the Lonzo encampment but so far it’s been nothing but empty rhetoric. This lack of accountability from David Eby and his government is deeply troubling,” said BC United MLA for Abbotsford South, Bruce Banman.

“The Premier was fully aware of the risks and dangers faced by both the vulnerable individuals living in the camp and the surrounding community. It is unacceptable that these warnings were disregarded, and that no steps were taken to ensure the safety and well-being of those affected.”

The documents obtained through FOI outline the risks posed by the Lonzo Road Park homeless encampment, including explosions leading to highway closures, burned-out vehicles, criminal activity including a homicide, and more than 100 people camping at the site. The released version of the document also includes two-full pages of government redactions, withholding solutions received by Eby as Housing Minister to address the dangerous conditions at Lonzo Park.

The BC United said that members of the local community, including the Mayor of Abbotsford, have been advocating for action for years, while the provincial government has taken no steps to help alleviate the dangerous conditions at the park. Since 2015, violent crime calls from the site have quadrupled and the Abbotsford Police say it is now the “most violent” encampment in the city.

“These documents follow a concerning pattern of David Eby burying critical reports to suit his political agenda,” said MLA Karin Kirkpatrick, BC United Critic for Housing. “Just like we saw Eby try to cover up the BC Housing scandal, he has also ignored warning signs that this encampment is dangerous to everyone involved. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt again, and action was needed yesterday.”

The BC United Caucus urgently called on the government to take immediate action to address the health and safety concerns on the site, enhance transparency, and give serious consideration to warnings from stakeholders, including its own officials.