Only a few people remain at Anita Place Tent City. (THE NEWS/files)

Update: Court clarifies ruling on Maple Ridge camp

More could become verified residents of tent city

The B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver has granted some of Pivot Legal Society’s requests concerning the earlier Feb. 8 court order governing Anita Place Tent City.

Pivot said in a news release last week that the July 15 ruling does allow former camp residents, who were unable to do so earlier this year, to be considered for verification as residents of the camp. People can do so by attending the City of Maple Ridge’s bylaws department.

The city also will provide the list of 47 names of the former residents at the camp to Pivot, as well as the names of people currently at the camp.

Justice J. Grauer also agreed, as did the city, to remove a clause pertaining to detention of people arrested at the camp that allowed keeping them in jail “until such time as they can be brought before this court.”

The city also agreed to destroy any information about former residents of the camp, upon request from those residents, Pivot spokesperson Anna Cooper said.

Cooper also challenged the city’s statement that the city has the right to control its own property.

The judge didn’t say the city had the right to control access to the camp under his order, although the city may have the power to do that under other laws, Cooper added.

“There’s nothing in this judgment which [says the] city has the right to do these things,” Cooper added.

Once Pivot receives the list of names, Cooper said the society will reach out to those people to tell them what their options are.

However, the City of Maple Ridge in a July 16 news release, said that the judgment recognizes, “that the city has the right to control its own property and to place conditions on the use of the property, including searches, prior to entry, for items prohibited by the court.”

“The court also found no basis to agree with Pivot’s poor characterization of the city’s conduct in carrying out the existing orders,” the release stated.

In his ruling, Grauer said that the city is not claiming it has the right to search people seeking entry to the camp under his order but that it has that right as the owner of the property. “I have no jurisdiction to tell Maple Ridge how it should maintain safety and security, or otherwise deal with persons seeking to come on its property,” the judge said. But any objection to that would have to follow a separate process, he added.

Mayor Mike Morden said in the release that the city appreciates the court’s decision to uphold the fire safety order. The camp was evacuated March 1 after an order by the provincial fire commissioner after there were three fires in two days at the camp, and a total of nine over almost two years.

“Staff have diligently followed the terms of that order with empathy and professionalism,” Morden said in the release.

“Our citizens and businesses have been very patient as council continues toward the goal of closing the camp to fulfill the promise of a neighbourhood park.”

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