Maple Ridge halts bid to close homeless camp
City asks for adjournment of injunction application while staff work with B.C. Housing to find shelter
Maple Ridge is pausing its legal bid to evict residents of a homeless camp that was established last month, citing plans to work with the campers to get them into housing.
The city was scheduled to appear in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday to argue for an injunction against the tent city located near the intersection of St. Anne Avenue and 223 Street. Instead, the municipality asked for an adjournment, saying the campers had made a commitment to work toward leaving voluntarily.
"This is a complete no-win situation for everybody. We get the injunction — where do we put people? We don't get the injunction — where do we put people?" Mayor Nicole Read said.
"We believe that our best chance for a good outcome is to work with all parties and the provincial government, whoever that may be as of [Thursday], and try to create a solution that leads to housing."
The city is not withdrawing its application for the injunction, instead choosing to put it on hold while staff work to ease the concerns of the surrounding community and speak with B.C. Housing about finding placements for the people in the camp.
Neighbours of the camp have complained in the past about garbage, drug paraphernalia and human waste littered around the municipally owned lot and nearby private properties.
Read said the city is working on getting portable toilets and sharps containers delivered to address those concerns.
"We know that there needs to be respectful conduct. This is a neighbourhood. We are mindful of citizen complaints and citizen concerns and we're following up on all of them," Read said.
Inside the camp Wednesday, resident Merle Paulsen said the situation had already stabilized.
"We've got the problems down, it seems. No hassles," he said.
He plans to stay in the camp until stable housing is found for everyone, but said homeless shelters are not a suitable solution because residents aren't given enough privacy.
"I was born in this town and I'm going to stick with it. Somebody's got to help these people," he said.