Homeless people on Cliff Avenue are fearing for their safety, after regular threats materialized into gasoline being dumped near the first tent in the long row lining the street.
A man living at the camp who did not wish to be identified said the homeless people there have been warned to leave, and threatened that they will be burned out, or beaten with baseball bats.
“Some people have left in fear. They can’t take it anymore,” he said.
The gas was not lit, and one of the camp residents tried to diluted it with a jug of water. Another sprayed it with a fire extinguisher, and they called 9-1-1.
Dr. Liz Zubek, a family physician with a clinic right across the street from the camp, made a posting on the Maple Ridge Council Watch Facebook group that pointed the finger at residents of the street.
She said there was a party at a residence, and the people there blocked the street with a truck and pylons, not allowing traffic to get through to the camp. The RCMP were called to have the barricade removed.
Dan Herbranson, the civilian spokesman for the Ridge Meadows RCMP, confirmed that police attended and “certainly there was an odour of gasoline in the area.”
He said police are aware of “ongoing hostility” directed at the camp residents.
While the immediate neighbours are most effected by the tent city, they are not the only ones growing impatient with the situation.
“It’s not just the neighbours. Quite a number of citizens are upset with the camp being there,” he said.
So far, there are no charges.
“The investigation is definitely ongoing.”
He said the dumping of gasoline did not appear to be necessarily connected to the Rally for Community Safety which was held on Saturday.
“We monitored the march, and it was very peaceful. Everyone was respectful,” said Herbranson.
Salvation Army Caring Place executive director Darrell Pilgrim was not aware of the gas spill, but has heard about the threats from vigilantes.
“We’re certainly concerned with some of the comments we’ve heard about and read on social media,” he said. “Our desire is that everyone involved would be treated with respect.”
Some negative comments have been directed at the Caring Place, and Pilgrim said they are uninformed. Of the hundreds of people in poverty whom the Salvation Army helps every day, the majority do not live on the streets, he said.
The Sally Ann sent 45 kids to summer camp last week, and is putting together 250 packages of school supplies in its backpack campaign.
“We are here to help anybody in our community that is in need – anybody at all,” said Pilgrim