MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) – Several dozen people showed up to rally at a Maple Ridge homeless camp on Monday afternoon.
Many were former residents of Anita Place, the tent city that was evacuated last week after a series of fires on the property.
The protesters, including members of the Alliance Against Displacement, say they’re fed up with how the police are treating homeless people in Maple Ridge.
Ivan Drury, one of the organizers of the rally, says that response could have been avoided.
“We’re standing here to say that we want to see the government stop criminalizing homelessness,” he said. “Treating homeless people with police and guns, and instead build homes.”
He says the government is investing resources in repression of the Anita Place residents, rather than building housing for them.
Protesters are asking the government to buy an apartment building across the street from the camp and turn it into social housing.
A few counter-demonstrators gathered across the street from the rally to heckle those participating.
The site has been a homeless camp for almost 2 years and was a major election issue for Maple Ridge voters.
For now, the camp is still under police patrol and the city is cleaning up debris, but leaving the structures in place.
Maple Ridge council will be putting together a Social Housing Plan to present at an open meeting next week.