Police set up a barricade around Anita Place Tent City on the weekend. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

UPDATE: Pivot files court appeal on Maple Ridge tent city clean-up order

Six arrested Sunday at Anita Place.

Pivot Legal Society is seeking to appear before the Court of Appeal on an expedited basis regarding court-ordered safety enforcements at Anita Place Tent City.

Pivot filed a notice of leave to appeal the order, issued Feb. 8, on Monday.

On Sunday, six people were arrested for violation of the City of Maple Ridge’s court injunction order for the Maple Ridge homeless camp, including one man who barricaded himself inside a wooden structure.

“We intend to appeal Justice [Christopher] Grauer’s order on an expedited basis and inform the court of the city and RCMP’s misconduct over the weekend, which included numerous and egregious contraventions of Justice Grauer’s decision,” said Caitlin Shane, lawyer with Pivot Legal Society.

“The city refuses to collaborate and communicate with residents of Anita Place, despite their stated commitment to do so.”

Pivot alleges misconduct by the city and RCMP for shutting off heat to a warming tent, thereby removing vital respite for residents in freezing cold temperatures.

“Pivot Legal Society repeatedly requested to reinstate the power over the weekend on an emergency basis. Residents are still without heat. Pivot Legal Society, which represents residents of Anita Place, received no advance notice of power being cut off. Repeated pleas to the city, the province of B.C., and B.C. Housing have been met with finger pointing between government.”

Pivot also alleges they impeded health care and service providers from entering the camp on 223rd Street to provide support to residents, as well as “setting up an ‘exclusion zone’ around Anita Place that hindered access for supporters and even some residents of the encampment, despite the RCMP being expressly denied this request by Justice Grauer in his order during the recent Supreme Court hearing. The RCMP, who had no standing at the hearing, sought this order without notice to anyone, including the court.”

Pivot said residents were also prevented from accessing their homes.

“Many faced routine delays in entering the site, including one woman who was forced to wait behind barricades for over 45 minutes, despite having difficulty standing due to physical mobility issues.”

Police and bylaws set up a barricade around Anita Place Tent City on Saturday and residents were asked for identification to be put on a list for housing, while the fire department enforced safety regulations imposed by a court order.

Meanwhile, electricity to the camp and heat to its warming tent were cut off Friday, when it snowed, and remained so on Saturday, while heat sources were removed.

Police continued their keep-the-peace duties Sunday during enforcement of the B.C. Supreme Court injunction order, which earlier this month gave the city authority to address fire safety issues in the camp on 223rd Street.

“As always, the primary concerns of police are public safety, police officer safety, and the right to peaceful, lawful and safe protests within the terms set by the B.C. Supreme Court in the injunction,” said Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk.

“The police keep-the-peace duties ensure the safety of everyone involved, which include the protesters, police officers, area residents, motorists, media, and City of Maple Ridge Bylaws and fire department employees,” Gresiuk added.

“Police do have common law powers to create a safe operational exclusion zone to ensure public safety and police officer safety, similar to a traffic accident scene or search warrant where the police limit public access. This safe operational exclusionary zone is as small and brief as possible based on security and safety needs with a focus of allowing a safe and orderly working space for the implementation of the court’s order. This is different from the ‘clean-up and return’ full clearing order that the Supreme Court discussed in the court’s decision.”

The B.C. Supreme Court has acknowledged the RCMP’s discretion with respect to enforcing the injunction and police may take enforcement action on a case-by-case basis if there are criminal activities or reports of individuals violating the court-ordered injunction.”

Six people were arrested Sunday for violation of the injunction and other criminal code offences.

Three appeared Monday in B.C. Supreme Court, charged with violation of the injunction order.

Three others also appeared in Port Coquitlam provincial court.

One of those, Ivan Drury, spokesperson for Alliance Against Displacement, appeared in court facing a charge of obstruction a peace officer.

Dwayne Alain Martin faced three charges – uttering threats, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and obstructing a peace officer.

Martin, a Anita Place Tent City resident, barricaded himself inside his wooden shelter Sunday morning, refusing to allow entrance to the fire department, police or bylaws who are at the camp enforcing safety regulations imposed by a court order.

Martin, one of the original camp residents, was adamant that nobody was going to enter his “house.”

He was later arrested, along with Ivan Drury and Listen Chen, both with the Alliance Against Displacement.

Chen and two others had chained themselves to a ladder outside of Martin’s wooden structure as fire officials and police attempted to take down the barricade.

The city had said firefighters were unable to gain entry to a wooden structure and reported a violation of the court order to the RCMP, who dealt with the situation.

Inspections of tents and structures on the site was to continue Monday. The work was to include debris scattered around the site, the proximity of tents and structures to the fence, and to each other, in order to bring the site in compliance with the court order.

On Friday, when the fire department arrived at the site, the electrical service panel for the camp was exposed to the elements and the electrical connections were tampered with, creating a significant life safety risk, according to the city.

In addition to the electrical panel tampering, the fire department noticed the smell of propane in the area.

The propane supplier arrived on site and noted that this was not the first time that the tanks had been tampered with and removed them from the site, according to the city, which did not request such action.

A significant number of propane tanks, patio heaters and gas-powered generators were found and removed from the site.

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