Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS (Clockwise) Linda Whitford, Tracy Scott, Ivan Drury and Tana Copperthwaite, organizers of the new tent city on St. Anne Avenue.

Alliance sets up new tent camp in Maple Ridge

Treed property in Maple Ridge planned to be a park

Another homeless camp has been set up in downtown Maple Ridge, two years after the first one began on Cliff Avenue and just down the road from it.

About a dozen people on Tuesday morning moved on to a fenced site on St. Anne Avenue, near the Haney Bypass, where the city wants to build a park.

“What we need is homes, not shelters,” said Ivan Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement.

Dury said it’s second tent camp opened by the Alliance recently as a part of a province-wide campaign against homelessness.

It’s also being done to force the issue in the days before the B.C. election, May 9.

“We’re launching tent cities in places where people are being forced into the street,” said Drury. “The demands of this tent city, like the one in Vancouver, is homes, not shelters. People need to stop being warehoused, they need places to live.”

Drury said it was just coincidence that the camp opened up a day after the MLAs’ citizens advisory committee recommended a no low-barrier shelter outside downtown Maple Ridge.

Several of the tents that were being set up were identical and were provided by the Alliance.

The intent is that people in the RainCity Housing temporary homeless shelter on Lougheed Highway in the downtown will move into the camp. Many of the 40 residents there are supposed to go the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, to allow the temporary homeless shelter to close in June. That shelter opened in October 2015 to allow the Cliff Avenue camp to close. The temporary homeless shelter was only supposed to be open for six months.

City bylaws staff and the RCMP attended the site immediately. The city is currently seeking legal advice and will monitor the situation closely to ensure public safety.