Hearing delayed on Maple Ridge camp injunction
Published Monday, June 5, 2017 12:49PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, June 5, 2017 6:30PM PDT
The Maple Ridge homeless camp got a temporary reprieve Monday morning when a B.C. Supreme Court justice adjourned the city’s application to shut the camp down until a hearing June 20.
Three tent city residents and advocates asked for more time to talk to lawyers – an argument that was briefly countered by lawyers for the city on the grounds that there was an urgent need to shut the tent city down.
“Urgency is the conditions within the encampment property itself and the impact on the surrounding community,” said lawyer Jeff Locke.
But Justice Kent said the homeless camp – just the latest front in the battle that has embroiled Maple Ridge for over two years – wasn’t so urgent the campers should be denied legal rights.
“What difference does one week make? The tent city in Victoria was there for how long? Is two weeks really going to make that much difference?” Justice Kent said.
“Unless you’re telling me world war three is about to start, or another conflagration, then…”
Locke said he wasn’t suggesting something that drastic was going to happen, but did say that leaving the camp in place would make matters more difficult.
“The evidence indicates that the camp grows. Complications will continue to grow,” Locke said. “If the interests of justice require a two week delay, then so be it.”
The intense debate in Maple Ridge has seen attacks on the homeless camp residents, as well as threats that drove Maple Ridge’s mayor Nicole Read into hiding.
She returned to work at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Ottawa Monday.
“There’s a minority of hateful people who post online,” Read told CTV News. “It’s been difficult. When I signed up to take on this role I didn’t think I’d have to deal with a credible threat against my safety.”
She said the ordeal has been traumatic for her family and children—she has a 10-year-old and a six-year-old.
As for the future of the homeless camp, she said the Liberal government had proposed two solutions, including converting a Quality Inn to a shelter space. But both were rejected by local MLAs.
That put the city back to square one, she said.
“It’s 100 per cent the disalignment with the provincial government,” she said. “From day one we’ve been supportive of bringing housing into the city. We’re looking forward to the ideas that will be brought to the table by whatever new government is formed.”
A tent city neighbour told CTV News that he thought the campers had been very orderly – but he had seen people drive by shouting hateful and threatening things.
“Yelling, screaming, throwing rocks,” said John Bullock.
Camp resident Tana Copperthwaite said she’d personally been on the receiving end.
“The rich and the poor get divided and anyone homeless gets picked off. People that wouldn’t talk to us go out of their way to be aggressive and hateful,” she said.
Another camp resident, Brad Frayne, told CTV news that the residents have helped him deal with the results of a stroke he had last year that paralyzed his right side.
The 58-year-old uses one leg to push a wheelchair up the street near the camp. But he needs help getting in and out of the tents.
“I have enough friends that will help me off the floor in the morning. Getting down on the floor, I need someone to hold my head otherwise I’ll do a nose dive,” he said.
The number of homeless people has been rising across the region as housing prices and rents continue their upward trajectory.
In May 2015, a homeless camp was set up along Cliff Avenue in Maple Ridge. Those residents were relocated to another temporary shelter in October of that year.
A plan to convert a Quality Inn to a shelter space was rejected by local MLAs. A local shelter is full right now, advocates told the court, and that’s why another tent city was set up nearby.