Maple Ridge backs down from court action to clear camp

Two-day hearing in Supreme Court cancelled

Maple Ridge is backing down from its pursuit of a court order to clear the Anita Place Tent City in the downtown.

Ivan Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement, said the City of Maple Ridge has withdrawn its application and there’s no longer any court date.

In a release Wednesday, the city said was only adjourning its action, on condition the camp remain safe and secure and the organizers work towards a voluntary dispersal of the tent camp.

“The injunction application has not been cancelled. Council has taken the opportunity to hit the “pause” button …” said Mayor Nicole Read.

The city is also working with BC Housing and the province to get more social housing here.

The city and lawyers for the tent city, were supposed to meet in Vancouver Supreme Court today, Wednesday, and tomorrow for a two-day hearing on whether the city could get a court order. That had been delayed twice to allow lawyers from both sides to prepare their case. Pivot Legal Society lawyers had collected 40 affidavits supporting the tent city.

The city last week said it was suspending its legal action providing conditions at the camp remained safe. But city councillors at the same time said that legal action hadn’t been suspended.

About 40 people are living in the tent city, along the Haney Bypass.

Drury said Wednesday that the camp opened on May 2 to protest provincial government inaction on homelessness.

He was surprised when city bylaws staff and police on May 11 removed tents from the site, only to have tent city residents reclaim their belongings and re-open the camp. “I didn’t expect the hostility one little bit.”

He’s now glad the city has suspended its court action and the focus is now back on the provincial government where it should have been all along, he said.

The city also will provide porta-potties and garbage collection to the site, he added.

Until now, the city wouldn’t allow porta-potties on the site forcing camp residents to dig their own latrine.

“You can’t avoid use of toilets and you can’t avoid making garbage.

“It’s recognition that people exist, bodily. I think the denial of those basic services up until now for the first two months … is a kind of a sabotage.”

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