Cliff Avenue was looking more like a regular road Thursday as the number of homeless tents dropped almost to the single digits.
“We went from 27 tents down to 10 in one week,” said Kelly Swift, general manager of parks and recreation services.
“We are keeping a full-court press on supporting people moving into the shelter.”
Once the temporary homeless shelter on Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street opened on Oct. 1, street outreach workers and bylaws were able to offer homeless campers a place to go and continue a process of voluntary dispersal from Cliff Avenue.
The homeless camp sprung up in May and continued growing to the point where tents lined both sides of the street in mid summer.
The gradual process, involving bylaws, parks staff, police and outreach workers, will continue hopefully until the last tent is gone, Swift said.
While there’s no timeline for clearing the street, the intent is to keep the pressure on.
“We would like to see the last tent off the street today, if possible. We’re working to keep it as peaceful a process as we can to support people moving to a safer place.”
Most, but not all of the campers are moving to the temporary shelter, operated by Rain City Housing until April.
But, “At the end of the day, people will make their own choice about where to go.”
So far, 27 people have moved into the shelter and are actually living there, said Swift.
The shelter, open 24 hours a day, has capacity for 40 people and provides laundry and hot meals.
Swift said the preference is to clear the street voluntarily, which will be a much quicker process than having to get a court order.
That process is underway, but could only start once the temporary shelter opened.
Once a court injunction has been obtained, it must be shown to the campers, who then are given time to respond.
After that, the court then will issue a specific day for when the city can clear the street.
Joanne Pinkney, with Maple Ridge Pool and Spa, said the tents in the front of her business have now disappeared, with the remains at the west end.
“I hope they can manage it. I’ll feel a lot better not having to look at it through my front door.
“I hope it works, that it’s going to work.”
However, she said the chain link fence that was built separating the street from the ravine where people used to camp, has now been broken in two places and she saw someone going down there, although she’s not certain if anyone is again camping there.
Ridge Meadows RCMP confirmed that a drug overdose occurred at the city shelter on Tuesday, about 4:10 p.m.
However, the man had recovered by the time paramedics arrived and took him to hospital.