Organizers of a homeless camp that the City of Maple Ridge tried to take down are planning a march in support of it on Saturday.
City bylaw enforcement officers and RCMP members descended on the homeless camp, located on 223rd Street near the Haney Bypass, on Thursday, packing up tents and other possessions and throwing them into the back of trucks.
But Ivan Drury, of Alliance Against Displacement, which organized the camp, jumped onto the back of a flat bed truck and threw the tents back onto the ground, berating the RCMP for their role in trying to dismantle the camp, located on municipal property that is proposed to be a park.
Drury and other members of the camp claim the city acted illegally in trying to evict the residents of “Anita Place Tent City” from public land.
Campers remained in place on Friday.
According to campers, the city cited concerns that the fencing around the property had been locked on several occasions and that the ability of first responders to gain emergency access was hindered.
“This despite the actual evidence that they can and have gained access to the site to provide care for a resident who overdosed earlier in the week,” they said.
The “tent city” was erected to give residents of the temporary shelter run by RainCity Housing a place to stay after it closes May 31.
It opened almost two years ago to clear those camping on Cliff Avenue.
Those at the temporary shelter are being offered mats to sleep on at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, located across the street from the temporary shelter, and just up the bypass from the new homeless camp.
Advocates hope to bring awareness to the growing crisis in the community surrounding homelessness, poverty, and housing security, and plan to march from Memorial Peace Park to the camp on Saturday.
As well, “Anita Place Tent City” supporters on Facebook are calling on Acting Maple Ridge Mayor Tyler Shymkiw and the city to “end the harassment of these residents who are residing legally on the land, according to the B.C. Supreme Court decision.
“We call on them to learn from the costly mistakes made by Abbottsford council and work with these residents to provide the services that they are entitled to as human beings … “
Shymkiw, acting as mayor while Nicole Read is absent stemming from online harassment allegations, said earlier in the week that the city will pursue all legal mechanisms to remove the camp, and that work is already underway on an injunction.
The city bylaws office twice issued notices to camp residents that they were trespassing, the second on Wednesday.
“These lands are closed for public use, and the entry, use and occupation of these lands is prohibited and in contravention of city bylaws and the Trespass Act, and constitutes a trespass,” it said.
“You are hereby directed to leave and vacate the lands and including the removal of all structures, possession sand other materials immediately.”
Protestors will gather at city hall Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. The rally will start at 2:30 pm.
“This will be followed by a march to the Anita Place Tent City on 223 Street for a celebration of community and caring,” said organizers.