British Columbia

6 arrested at Maple Ridge homeless camp

Fire department officials and city bylaw officers also seized several propane tanks, barbecues and heaters over the weekend.

Officials also seized propane tanks, heaters, barbecues, generators from the camp

The Anita Place tent city was established in May 2017 and has fought off two court injunctions. (Valerie Gamache/Radio-Canada)

SIx people were arrested at the Anita Place homeless camp in Maple Ridge, B.C., Sunday for allegedly violating a court injunction.

In a statement, RCMP said three of the six will be appearing in B.C. Supreme Court Monday on alleged violation of an injunction order that gave the City of Maple Ridge authority to address fire safety issues in the camp.

Three others will be appearing in provincial court on various alleged criminal offences.

Over the weekend, fire department officials and bylaw officers from the city also seized several items they said pose fire and safety hazards to residents.

Accompanied by RCMP officers and private security guards, they carried out inspections of tents and structures and removed items like propane tanks, patio heaters, barbecues and gas-powered generators.

The City of Maple Ridge said it inspected all of the tents and removed "a significant number" of propane tanks residents use for heating and cooking. (Submitted by the City of Maple Ridge)

'Real concerns' about city's actions

Caitlin Shane, a lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society, is working with some of the residents. She said the behaviour of officials against the tent city residents goes "way over what was reasonable."

Shane said it was difficult for her to get past the barriers set up by police around the tent city to even talk to her clients. She saw service providers who wanted to drop off food and other supports, as well as residents struggling to get through. 

"We have real concerns about the actions that were taking place over the last few days," Shane said.

RCMP say officers created a cordoned-off area with barriers with limited public access as "a safe and orderly working space."

Camp in legal battle

The city obtained a court injunction on Feb. 8 in which the B.C. Supreme Court recognized the risks at the camp, including tents pitched close together, dangerous electrical wiring, and the presence of propane and gasoline near open flames.

Anita Place was established in May 2017 to protest the closure of a 40-bed shelter in Maple Ridge. 

Since then, residents of the camp and their lawyers have fought off two attempts by the City of Maple Ridge to evict them in the courts.

With files from Ryan Jones and Gian-Paolo Mendoza