Green belt where encampment was found is just metres from house of Joanne Mitchell’s friend. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge residents clean up fire pit

Spend the weekend hauling out trash from Cottonwood area

While the city continues the long process of closing Anita Place Tent City, residents in the Cottonwood area are worried their homes could be destroyed as a result of campfires in a nearby ravine.

A handful of residents cleared out a small camp on Cottonwood Drive, just south of 119th Avenue, on the weekend, something that Susan Einarsson says should have been done by the city bylaws department.

She lives in a townhouse next to the wooded area, where a small camp was found by other residents. She joined the cleanup effort after seeing other residents’ plans on Facebook.

She called the bylaws department, but didn’t get any information.

Einarsson said that the amount of drug paraphernalia found at the site was “shocking,” and said there was evidence of one campfire and three other areas where fires were started, although the reasons for that are not certain.

“You can imagine if a fire took off there at night. This was well beyond, ‘Hey we’re offended.’ This is our lives, and our property and our homes on the line.

Einarsson is a videographer and broadcast journalist and voluntarily produced a video where she interviewed Mayor Michael Morden about the issue of homelessness this past spring. She said she told Morden that TV crews were on the way to the site on the weekend.

Morden said Tuesday that “camps have been popping up periodically all over the city.”

He added that Maple Ridge is “doing far more than our share of housing per capita and cannot properly resource all these people with this level of complex needs.”

On Monday, a bylaw crew hauled away the remainder of the refuse.

Maple Ridge fire chief Howard Exner said Monday that “we haven’t had a noticeable increase,” in the number of calls to put out fires in the bushes around Maple Ridge.

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Joanne Mitchell helped clean up camp site off Cottonwood Drive on the weekend. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

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