Work has started on turning the former Anita Place Tent City into a park, the City of Maple Ridge announced Friday.
“It has been a long road and I would like to thank residents for their patience and understanding as our city followed the required legal process to close the camp permanently,” Mayor Michael Morden said in a news release.
|Fires occurred at tent city. (THE NEWS/files)|
“I want to extend a special note of thanks to our police, firefighters, bylaws and parks departments and the many other city staff for their dedication, professionalism and hard work, far and beyond the call of duty to conclude what has been three long, difficult years for all concerned.”
The tent city was established at the 223rd Street and St. Anne Avenue location after the temporary emergency shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy. closed in May 2017. That shelter was opened in order to allow the clearing of the Cliff Avenue homeless camp in October 2015.
Anita Place Tent City was evacuated last March 1 on order of the provincial fire commissioner after an application by Maple Ridge Fire Chief Howard Exner. That was followed by the city restricting access to verified residents, after receiving a court order.
The city’s news release said that the remaining residents at the camp are moving to the new 51-unit Garibaldi Ridge supportive housing building that just opened on Burnett Street. With the residents relocated, work can start on the location.
|It’s been a long road to get camp closed, said Mayor Michael Morden Friday. (THE NEWS/files)|
Most of city council, including Morden, had opposed the opening of Garibaldi Ridge complex because it didn’t provide enough mental health supports and had asked other cities in B.C. to support Maple Ridge’s opposition to the housing ministry building the complex without obtaining city approval.
According to the release, security will stay in place while the washroom and warming tent will be removed. Then, the remaining shacks will be removed. An environmental consultant will test the soil to determine any remediation required.
Designs and consultation for the park that had started in 2017 and the parks, recreation and culture deparment will be contacting community members involved in that process as well as new residents, to finalize a park design, Morden added.
“Council looks forward to following through with our commitment to deliver a new family park to this historic neighbourhood in late spring of 2020,” Morden said.