UPDATE: RCMP arrest protesters at modular housing site

Royal Crescent protesters released after 45 minutes

Ridge Meadows RCMP arrested three people at the Royal Crescent site for temporary modular housing in Maple Ridge on Friday.

Three people, two of them seniors who live next to the proposed 55-unit site at 22548 Royal Cres., have been at the site for the past week since a previous protest camp earlier.

Dave Anderson, who lives next to the property, is afraid of crime, vandalism and litter that could accompany the project to provide emergency housing for the homeless, mainly the residents of Anita Place Tent City, just a few blocks away.

“They’ll fill this place up with drug addicts … where are they going to go? Right into this neighbourhood,” he said.

“We’re not going anywhere,” said protester Tina Macleod, who works at the nearby seniors residence.

“Take us to jail. Take us to court.”

Macleod said she had compassion for homeless people.

“I just don’t think this is the right way to do it.”

B.C. Housing’s goal is to have the modular homes, which will have 24-hour supervision and access to mental health and addictions treatment, ready by fall.

Anderson, 75, said the trio were taken to the RCMP detachment and locked in individual cells, and released after approximately 45 minutes.

“We’ve got a court case coming up, and we’ve got to get out and get fingerprinted.”

He said the consequences were “worth it” to make a statement.

“It’s something I believe in.”

RCMP Cpl. Dean Caughy said the three protestors were released on a promise to appear in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court, but they have not been formally charged yet.

“At this point, no charges have been forwarded,” he said. “The investigation is still ongoing.”

“We will look at all the factors involved,” said Caughy.

He said if they go back to protesting, they would be at risk of being arrested again.

B.C. Housing received an injunction on Thursday after an initial application was adjourned, when an earlier protest camp dispersed more than a week ago.

“The safety of the protesters was a concern, as there is construction debris and exposed foundation on-site, which poses a safety hazard to anyone trespassing on the property,” the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in a release Friday.

The project is part of the Building B.C.: Rapid Response to Homelessness program that is seeing success in other B.C. communities, the ministry added.

Police arrived at about 11:30 a.m. to enforce the court order to clear the site, then about an hour later arrested three protesters by gently leading them to police vehicles.

B.C. Housing said earlier this month that it would seek a court injunction to ensure that construction can begin, and people can get into housing before winter. The agency is building the temporary modular housing without seeking city approval because of what it says is an urgent need to house people.

A supportive housing and shelter project on 11749 Burnett St., for which B.C. Housing did seek city approval, was rejected by city council Tuesday in a 5-2 vote.

B.C. Housing has since offered to separate the shelter and supportive housing functions and possibly relocate the latter to a previously considered site at 21375 Lougheed Hwy., which also was rejected two years ago by the previous provincial government because of public outcry.

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