While the tent city known as Anita Place has been dismantled for two years, the issues that caused the camp to form in the first place are still present, said an organizer of a housing rally planned for June 1.
“The hostility that was in Maple Ridge that compelled the opening of Anita Place tent city has only gotten worse,” said Maple Ridge Resistance spokesperson Ivan Drury.
The rally, referred to as (Model) Tent City, is scheduled to be held at Haney Nokai Park on 222nd Street and Brown Avenue.
A flyer appearing on posts around downtown Maple Ridge is encouraging those gathering to bring tents, canopies, signs and banners, but Drury said organizers are not trying to start another pop-up encampment.
“There has to be action at the grassroots level, so this model tent city will express the emergency need for this action, and the outrage in the community,” he said.
“While the camp was there, there was a political instrument to give voice to the many needs of low income people who are suffering under the long global recession and downturn in employment and incomes, and also the austerity programs of governments that have cut social programs since the 1970s.”
The flyer asks protesters to ‘Fight for Homes for All!’
Drury said there is a demand for quality social housing with rents set at welfare and pension rates, run under the Residential Tenancy Act, with suites large enough to house families.
The modular housing, and temporary shelters are not adequate to solve the housing needs prevalent in the city, he insisted.
Also of note, is an absence of overdose prevention sites in the city.
“Every week another person in the community dies, either in the bathroom stalls of the Caring Place shelter, isolated in their rooms in the modular housing, or hiding in alleyways or ravines around the community,” Drury said.
“These conditions have to stop and no one is going to stop them except the community itself.”
Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden said the city is watching the situation, and it will be monitored by bylaws and the community safety officers.
He was alerted to the planned event by about ‘17 different people.’
“We are aware and appreciate the public raising their concerns with the city,” he said.
“We have every trust and confidence in our public safety response as warranted to ensure the well-being and safety of our citizens and businesses.”
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