Members of Anita Place Tent City held a press conference to express their concerns about the City of Maple Ridge’s plans to seek an injunction and remove the camp.
City council announced on Wednesday, Oct. 25 they were going to seek an injunction in order to have the camp removed, citing a long list of safety and health concerns, especially to its first responders. The city made the announcement one a day after hearing from local businesses, and the public regarding their ongoing issues surround the effects the camp is having on their businesses as well as theft and violence.
Isabel Krupp, a member of the Alliance against Displacement, an advocacy group in the Lower Mainland supporting the homeless, said the city’s decision is an attack on some of its most vulnerable citizens and is fanning the flames of hate.
Homelessness is Maple Ridge,” said Krupp. Poverty exists here just like it does everywhere. The city would prefer for poverty to remain invisible and for homeless people to remain silent, but that’s not going to happen.”
She when the homeless people are isolated, invisible and silent, they are ore susceptible to harm. She said the homeless camp on 223rd Street and St. Anne Avenue actually has allowed campers to reduce that harm and save lives.
“It creates a space for homeless people to to develop and articulate real solutions to homelessness and poverty in Maple Ridge,” said Krupp.
Tracey Scott, a spokesperson for the camp, said it’s time the city took some responsibility for the homeless issue and took action.
“We want a solution to the problem,” said an emotional Scott. “Give us 200 of those modular homes. Put 200 in it. Build those other ones as quick as possible and get the rest of us off the street, then you’ll have the minimum number of homeless people on the street as possible.”
Scott said unless the city and the province come forward with a permanent solution, the members of Tent City will simply set up shop again, if not in the same location, but somewhere else.
“They’ll have to get me out of here by police, and when I get out of jail I am coming right back here through that fence and I’ll keep doing it over and over and over again until you hear what I am saying,” said Scott.
Krupp took issues with the city’s press release citing it’s reasons for the injunction, specifically the surrounding the issue of safety of both the police and the fire department is a completely fabricated claim.
“It’s an excuse for this injunction. It’s an excuse to dismantle this tent city — this political space — and we’re calling on the city to retract the statement,” said Krupp.
This is the second time the city of Maple Ridge has sought an injunction for the homeless camp this year. Mayor Nicole Read has said there is no timeline set for the injunction and has informed the provincial government of its intentions. She said council has not had a formal response from the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, to a series of questions it submitted in September.
Robinson said the provincial government has promised funding for modular housing and support services for the homeless in Maple Ridge, but the city has yet to provide a property with rezoning on which to place it. Robinson is aware of several properties that have been discussed for a short-term solution, as well as its willingness to discuss a permanent supportive housing and homeless shelter.