The two-storey cabin with cedar shake siding occupies a commanding view at the gateway to downtown and took a year to build, so Dwayne Martin doesn’t want to see the product of his labours turned into a pile of rubble.
Martin, one of the founding residents of Maple Ridge’s Anita Place Tent City, is afraid his cabin will be torn down once he moves into a new place BC Housing has found for him in Vancouver.
“Look at the size of the place,” he said. For Martin, other people who come into the camp should be able to benefit from the structure so they can have a safe space to sleep. “And I’d hate to see it torn down. I put a lot of work into that, a lot of work. It cost me 600 bucks,” he said.
Martin, a floor installer, was expected to be evicted from the camp July 31 after the city in June got a Supreme Court order requiring him to leave once he found housing. He doesn’t know when that eviction will take place.
Over several months, he has expanded the cabin to two storeys high to about 1,200 sq. feet. Inside, there are 12 rooms along with harm reduction supplies.
Martin said Wednesday he didn’t steal any of the materials, saying it all came out of waste bins from local construction sites, or, people would drop off scrap wood to him.
“I steal hearts, that’s all I steal,” he said. “It’s cheesy I know, but it’s true.”
Martin said he used 2 X 10s in the construction and a heavy door and lots of screws to keep everything secure. The cabin’s also anchored to four trees in the camp and is cover with cedar shakes that Martin cut himself from yellow cedar logs that someone gave him on the Stave River. The place is also lighted, an important feature.
“If you don’t have lights, you’re going to have rats crawling all over you,” Martin said, adding he just wants it to remain until the camp is disbanded.
“I call it a rustic rancher. And it’s built very well, I tell you,” Martin said.
The size of the tent city, first opened in May 2017, has decreased considerably since a March 1 evacuation of the camp under the orders of the B.C. fire commissioner.
Only people who had been verified as residents of the camp have been allowed to return. Currently, there are six or seven residents there.
However, on July 15, the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver granted some of Pivot Legal Society’s requests concerning the earlier Feb. 8 court order governing Anita Place Tent City.
The July 15 ruling allows 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.
But so far, only one former resident has returned to the camp. Ivan Drury, with Alliance Against Displacement, said that homeless people should be allowed to move into the camp, along with former residents of the camp.
“They’re leaving them to suffer on the street,” Drury said.
Coun. Ahmed Yousef though, speaking individually, said the building is unsafe. “This is an extremely dangerous structure that is not built to any code or standard,” saying others can’t be put at risk by being allowed to stay in it.
He said BC Housing has not yet found housing for the remaining five people in the camp, which is costing the city in maintenance and security costs.
“BC Housing has not been as quick to house the five individuals as the city and community of Maple Ridge would like to see,” Yousef said.