British Columbia

Efforts to disband Maple Ridge tent city reach B.C. Supreme Court

Maple Ridge's Anita Place tent city is at the centre of a two-day Supreme Court hearing that began Monday

Conflict is over in-tent heaters

The City of Maple Ridge says that heating methods used at Anita Place are creating fire hazards for its residents. (Peter Kim)

Maple Ridge's Anita Place tent city is at the centre of a two-day Supreme Court hearing that began Monday.

The City of Maple Ridge, which filed an injunction application, argues the heating methods used by residents create fire hazards. Lawyers representing the city said in court the current conditions could lead to a "catastrophic fire".

They argue the spacing between tents needs to be greater than one metre, there needs to be restricted use of open fire and electrical heaters cannot be used inside tents.

It's not the first time the city has filed an injunction against the tent city. The latest resulted in a consent order in November 2017. In the order, the city agreed to support residents.

Pivot Legal is representing the tent city residents. It argues the city hasn't met the consent order requirements and hasn't worked with residents on heating options.

"The city appears to be looking at warming devices simply from the perspective of fire safety," said Anna Cooper with Pivot Legal. "They're saying, 'these warming devices aren't perfectly safe'. And we're saying, 'maybe they're not perfectly safe, but freezing to death is also unsafe.'"

Pivot also argues the tent city is necessary to accommodate a lack of shelter beds and affordable housing in Maple Ridge.

The city says it has supplied the camp with a hygiene trailer but cannot approve of in-tent heaters as they are too great of a fire risk.

It also says it's not looking to disband the camp but wants the ability to go to the camp and enforce fire regulations.

The hearing continues Tuesday.


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