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Residents of Maple Ridge tent city allowed to return on strict conditions

A Maple Ridge tent city has reopened, but on strict terms dictated by the city’s mayor Mike Morden.

The Anita Place homeless camp was established off Lougheed Highway at the corner of St. Anne Avenue and 223rd Street in May, 2017, and has been home to up to 200 people.

Late last month, firefighters entered the site, using a Supreme Court of B.C. order that allowed them to check on fire safety. They found multiple safety issues at the site, culminating in the arrest of six people who were blocking firefighters from accessing a wooden structure. The site was evacuated on March 2.


John Newton, 28, is seen behind police tape in Maple Ridge, B.C., on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Newton says he was the last resident to leave the “Anita Place” homeless camp in Maple Ridge, B.C., when police and firefighters enforced an evacuation order Saturday and cordoned off the area.

Amy Smart /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Morden said firefighters and bylaw officers had done an “extraordinary job making this site safe for camp occupants and the surrounding neighbourhood.”

He said a plan was now in place to allow occupants to return to the site.

However, there were several conditions, the first being all residents have to “verified” by the city. The perimeter of the site has also been secured and there will be 24-hour security on site and no one gets in unless they are verified occupants, or legal aids or B.C. Housing staff.

Morden said any “new arrivals” would be barred from the site, there would be regular inspections and no propane, gasoline, paints cans or accelerants would be allowed.

He said the city’s goal was to have all the verified residents transferred to B.C. Housing provided accommodation. As people got new homes and left the camp they would not be replaced by newly verified residents.


Maple Ridge city officials with local fire and RCMP moved in to dismantle Anitas Place homeless camp in Maple Ridge, BC Saturday, March 2, 2019. Concerns over the use of propane cooking stoves and heaters in tents prompted the action.

Jason Payne /

PNG

He added that B.C. Housing was in the process of restoring power to the washroom and shower facility and installing the heating system for the warming tent.

The Pivot Legal Society, which is representing tent city occupants, wrote on Twitter that the city’s verification process was flawed. They claimed the city had no legal basis to refuse non-verified people access to the site.


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