Residents of a homeless camp in Maple Ridge say the city is trying to forcibly evict them, without any warning or justification.
People living at the newly formed encampment, known as Anita’s Place, say city workers arrived on Thursday and began throwing out belongings.
Merle, a 57-year-old disabled resident, says he left the camp this morning to get his medication and came back to find the city in action.
“As I returned my tent had been torn down and thrown in the back of a truck and all my stuff’s thrown out in the wet and everything,” he says.
“The Bylaw people, the RCMP, and the Fire Department, they were all here.”
That’s after another resident says the city’s bylaw department visited the site yesterday and gave it the all clear.
As the city moves against the camp, residents and supporters say they’re concerned they’ll become the target of vigilantism.
LISTEN: Simi Sara and CKNW reporter Jeremy Lye discuss the homeless camp
Supporter Tracy Scott says Maple Ridge crews have removed a construction fence around the area. “Now we’re open, we’re sitting open for the gangs that are having issues with us,” she says.
“Now we’re open, we’re sitting open for the gangs that are having issues with us,” she says.
“There’s a couple of gangs that we’re concerned about, so far people have just gone by pointing their fingers in a gun shape at as or telling us to get out of here, ‘we’re dead,’ things like that.”
“We get a lot of hate.”
The Chief Administrative Officer for Maple Ridge has confirmed that no injunction against the camp has been heard, despite city bylaw staff allegedly attempting to remove a tent that belonged to a homeless person living there.
Ted Swabey says by-law workers would have checked each tent to see whether it was used but says he cannot explain why the workers did not talk with other residents to confirm which tents actually were.
“I’m sure by-law staff that were on site made every effort to ensure that the tents were vacant before they did dismantle them. I don’t know how they went about determining that.”
Swabey says alternative housing is being looked at for the residents, but can’t say if all of it would be in Maple Ridge.
The city also released a statement acknowledging that it removed what it calls “a number of vacant tents.”
The city says campers had locked the fence on several occasions, and that it was removed to “ensure public safety and the ability of first responders and City staff to have access to the site at all times.”
It says it is currently seeking an injunction to have the camp removed.