Outreach workers were still trying to help the homeless move off Cliff Avenue on Tuesday

Cliff campers in no hurry

Some won’t leave without an injunction.

They have their notices to vacate in black and white, but campers along Cliff Avenue are dawdling in their departure.

After the temporary homeless shelter opened Thursday on Lougheed Highway, residents of the Cliff Avenue camp had another place to live, if only for six months.

But Monday, about 20 tents still stood along the street.

“They’ve sent us an eviction notice and we’re to be out by tomorrow,” said Linda Whitford, known as ‘Mama Bear.’

The notice was a letter from the city asking them to leave by Tuesday, even offering a place to store their belongings until they had found a home.

But Whitford, one of the founders of the camp last May, is not moving until she can see a court order demanding people leave.

“Unless they come here and show us the injunction, we’re not going to leave. They have to show us the injunction.”

The city doesn’t yet have a court injunction, but the Notice to Cease Camping is the first step towards that.

The goal is to have voluntary compliance, although the city is also working on securing an injunction if that becomes necessary.

Whitford is trying to get roommates together so they can share the rent of a house. But even if she finds a place, she’s worried about what happens to the other residents. “I’m just worried about the people who don’t have the beds, and the people that use. I’m worried that they’re going to go off and shoot up and die because they don’t have the people supporting them.”

Rochelle McIntosh was being forced to move, from one tent to another on Monday night, after having her belongings taken by the city this morning.

She has a bed at the shelter, but doesn’t want to go.

“So I can have them rip off everything?” she said.

“Nobody wants to go to that shelter.”

One man just arrived at the camp after losing his apartment Friday, when he said his girlfriend left him.

He was trying to get into a psychiatric ward, because access to help his addiction to crystal meth was quicker.

“I’ve been having seizures,” he said. “Really, I’m dying.”

He had all his possessions in his truck and explained his girlfriend left because she didn’t want to see him die a slow death from drugs.

Maple Ridge council heard Monday that 27 people are now registered at the temporary shelter. That doesn’t mean they’re actually staying there, just that they’ve registered.

“So we’re getting very good uptake,” said parks and recreation services general manager Kelly Swift.

Photos posted on social media last week showed many empty beds.

Swift told council that the costs of combatting the homeless issue, now called the Maple Ridge Resilience Initiative, remains what it was in April, $325,000. Of that: $160,000 will pay four street outreach workers for six months; $65,000 for staffing; $25,000 for security; and $75,000 to pay for a study to assess social service delivery in Maple Ridge.

While the city had to pay for renovations to the building to allow the temporary shelter to open, as well as more than $7,000 monthly for the six months the shelter will be open, that’s been balanced out by B.C. Housing paying for the outreach workers.

The result is the $325,000 outlined earlier this year for homelessness hasn’t changed.

“So the taxpayers’ dollars here are little over $300,000,” asked Coun. Gordy Robson.

The public needs to know that, he added.

 

 

 

 

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