Tension climbed again at the Cliff Avenue homeless camp Wednesday morning as an altercation between two homeless campers resulted in one man taken to hospital with head injuries.
A construction worker at a nearby home said he heard two men fighting inside a tent at the west end of the homeless camp shortly after 11 a.m.
The fight then spilled outside on to the road where one man chased another while armed with an aluminum bat. The man threw the bat at another male trying to flee west of Cliff Avenue before collapsing on the front lawn of a nearby home. His face and chest bloodied, he was attended to by Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue before being taken away on a stretcher by B.C. Ambulance about 30 minutes after the initial altercation.
The man is still in hospital and it’s not certain about the extent of his injuries.
“He was running when the officers intervened,” said Ridge Meadows RCMP civilian media spokesman Dan Herbranson.
Tempers can climb at the camp, he added.
“Because you’ve got a group of people living with each other, so it’s very easy for tempers to go up and down at the best of times. It’s not easy for anybody.”
A number of RCMP were on scene doing regular patrols, when the fight broke out. Later on that day at about 6:30 p.m., another skirmish broke out. There were no injuries.
This is not the first violent altercation to take place on Cliff Avenue since the homeless camp set up shop starting at the end of March.
An argument between two homeless campers on June 1 turned vicious when one of those involved had the tip of her finger bitten off during the altercation.
The RCMP made an arrest in the case and recommended charges of assault causing bodily harm.
The camp now has about 65 residents lining both sides of the street, near homes and businesses.
Tents are jammed close to each other, increasing the safety risk.
Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton announced last week that B.C. Housing will pay for the shelter once the city finds a location. The province will pay the operating costs if the city provides a suitable building.
“The province is prepared to fund a temporary shelter provided by the city for several months, while working to find permanent housing for those who need it,” said Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing, via e-mail.
Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs said the city should be able to find a building that it can lease within a month.
He said it has to be located near social services but not close to a residential area. The shelter may require capacity to house 100 people in basic accommodation, which may involve cubicle type residences. Speirs expects the shelter to be operating only for six months to allow people to find market housing.