Court allows Maple Ridge tent city to stay and address “life safety issues”

Court allows Maple Ridge tent city to stay and address “life safety issues”

BC Housing will work with city, camp residents to instal modular housing

Anita Place Tent City can stay, a judge ruled in Vancouver Supreme Court Monday.

Monday’s ruling was the formalization of a tentative agreement reached by the City of Maple Ridge and Pivot Legal, who represents the campers.

“We are adjourning our injunction application to pursue our shared goals for safety,” city lawyers said.

According to Pivot Legal lawyer Anna Cooper, the agreement means the campers, the city and BC Housing will all work together to address “life safety issues” at the camp.

“It’s a win in the sense that we’re not going anywhere; we’re staying home. This is what we call home,” said camp resident David Cudmore. “I think the province is moving in the right direction.”

Cooper said that the agreement will provide the camp’s residents with the means to comply with fire safety regulations.

“The order states that as long as campers are putting in their best efforts to obey the fire safety regulations, the city will assist them in making camp fire-safe,” said Cooper.

“In the past, the fire department would go on a walkabout, they would say a tarp isn’t fire safe and that camper would be told you can’t have that tarp. They wouldn’t be told what they could do instead.”

Now, Cooper said, authorities will provide a solution to any fire safety concerns they identify.

“It’s a more pragmatic approach to fire safety,” said Cooper.

The City of Maple Ridge will also work with BC Housing to improve sanitation at the camp by installing modular washrooms and bringing in running water.

There’s no date for when the sanitation improvements would be brought in, Cooper said, but camp resident Tracy Scott noted that “anytime would be great.”

The question of when, and if, modular camping will be provider for the campers remains, Cooper said,

“We are hopeful, based on what has been said in court today that the intention is to allow people to stay in camp and have it be as safe as possible until housing solutions are provided,” she said. “That is something we are looking towards the province and the city to arrange.”

There is no guarantee that the city will not come back with another attempt to shut down the camp in the future, Cooper said.

In a signed affidavit, BC Housing stated that their first priority “is to get the residents indoors by building temporary modular housing.”

Modular housing has already been rolled out in Vancouver and Surrey is slated to get more than a hundred units in the coming months.

BC Housing stated that the camp will receive 40-50 “work-camp style” units of modular housing to “meet the immediate needs of homeless people in Maple Ridge.”

The agency will fund the capital and operation costs of the modular homes, including a dining hall, a meal service and 24/7 staffing.

The modular housing might not be installed in the camp’s current location; BC Housing said it is considering 20 location within the city and has already ruled out 25 others.

More to come.

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