MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) – An evacuation order forcing occupants out of a tent city in Maple Ridge has been lifted, but it’s conditional.
Caitlin Shane with the Pivot Legal Society says only people who “verified” their identity last month are allowed back into Anita Place.
“It’s deeply frustrating. We knew that when they were doing this verification process, a number of people would not be verified for a number of reasons. There was a very small window during which verifications took place. And for any number of reasons, long-time residents of Anita Place may not have been there … whether they were in hospital or staying with friends or whatever it might have been.”
She says she’s spoken to someone who was not there when “verifications” took place. “He is now being told he can’t come back in.”
City staff have confirmed re-entry only applies to people identified when the injunction order took effect February 8 and “new arrivals’ are banned from the site near St. Anne Ave. and 223rd St.
On Tuesday, a judge will decide if Pivot can appeal.
“We have a plan in place to allow verified occupants of the site to return,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden in a news release.
“This plan ensures that the site remains safe for the people in and around the area and reflects the terms of the BC Supreme Court Order issued on February 8. We will continue to explore ways to ensure that social support systems are in place to see the camp come to an end.”
Morden and councillors in Maple Ridge have chosen not to answer questions from the media about the ongoing situation surrounding the Anita Place homeless camp. It was evacuated two weekends ago following three fires in as many days.
Anita Place has been the site of a homeless camp for almost two years and split the community as a major election issue for Maple Ridge voters. The previous council rejected a rezoning application for an 85-unit shelter and supportive housing facility. Anita Place has seen around nine fires since it began.
B.C.’s Supreme Court granted an injunction in February allowing the city to remove electrical connections, fuels and other things deemed fire hazards. It also allows Maple Ridge to identify camp occupants to figure out who needs housing and other services.
The deadline for the city to submit a social housing plan to the Province was Friday March 8.
Staff with BC Housing say Mayor Mike Morden talked to Housing Minister Selina Robinson last week and promised the plan would go before city council on Tuesday.
– With files from Lasia Kretzel