With the courts having stopped the City of Vancouver from removing a homeless camp, organizers of Anita Place Homeless Camp in Maple Ridge think their position has strengthened.
Maple Ridge is seeking an injunction against the camp, after bylaws officers’ failed attempt to remove the residents on May 11. Many of the homeless people went in their tents and refused to leave.
City councillors will not reveal details, such as the timeline, of the injunction process. If granted, it would enable city officials to remove the camp with the support of the RCMP.
However, Ivan Drury, of the Alliance Against Displacement, said he is not yet aware of an injunction proceeding by Maple Ridge. The campers have yet to receive a notice of order.
“If we receive one, we will certainly combat it,” said Drury.
He believes the unsuccessful Vancouver injunction application was stronger than Maple Ridge’s.
The tent city at 950 Main Street is on a city-owned lot near Science World.
The City of Vancouver argued the camp was preventing development of a 26-unit affordable housing complex, and delays could imperil funding for the project.
Maple Ridge said the camp at 223rd Street and St. Anne Avenue is preventing development of a new city park.
A judge weighing the public good in moving a homeless camp would likely give more weight to affordable housing than a neighbourhood park, Drury asserts.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neena Sharma said the City of Vancouver did not prove it would suffer irreparable harm if the court order was not granted.
The Alliance successfully argued the safety of the people in the camp would be jeopardized if they were required to leave, and said they have nowhere else to go.
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said she has supported council’s decision to pursue an injunction, but Vancouver’s loss in court is “a huge concern.
“They [the homeless] could end up with a legal right to stay there,” if Maple Ridge loses in court, she said.
The closure of the temporary shelter, scheduled for the end of the month, creates another issue.
Approximately 40 people now there can argue they have no place to go, said Read.
Critics have called Anita Place a protest camp, and said few of the original people there were from Maple Ridge.
“This politically designed camp by people from outside our community was set up for the media,” Coun. Tyler Shymkiw said previously, as acting mayor.
“It’s not a response to the true need of the local population.”
Members of council have called Drury a professional protestor.
“It’s a smear, and it is untrue, and the purpose of it is to de-legitimize a camp people are depending on for survival,” responded Drury.
“It’s true, there is political thinking behind the camp in Maple Ridge,” adding the goal is housing, and not “a nightmare shelter like Rain City.”
Those who complain about the involvement of the Alliance are against street people having political and logistical support, he said.
“They are complaining about increased power and resilience of people on the streets in Maple Ridge,” said Drury.
“They are political, they are homeless people, and they are protesters.”
He will argue in court that the camp makes its residents safer, with initiatives such as championing safety for women.
“It’s a place of security and stability for homeless people.”
Drury said the change in both local ridings after the provincial election gives him reason for optimism, and noted the province has pledged $15 million for a new shelter and transitional housing.
“The resources are actually there,” he said.
The city can use the new camp as leverage to get cooperation from senior government, he added.
“The city needs to take leadership again.”