British Columbia

Maple Ridge homeless camp residents face deadline

17 tents remain at the Cliff Avenue encampment, despite a cease-and-desist letter.

17 tents remain at the Cliff Avenue encampment, despite a cease-and-desist letter

Mike Lancaster lives at the homeless camp in Maple Ridge and doesn't intend to leave. (CBC News)

People living in a homeless camp in Maple Ridge, B.C., are bracing for more conflict, now that the city's deadline for them to leave has passed.

"Until they serve us with an injunction, we're not going anywhere," said Mike Lancaster, who has lived at the camp since January.

The controversial camp on Cliff Avenue has been home to as many as 40 tents. The city wants to clear the area and has opened a new, temporary winter shelter to house the campers.

It also has asked B.C. Housing to end a contract with the nearby Salvation Army branch, claiming it didn't provide adequate services for the city's growing homeless population.

There are still 17 tents at a homeless camp in Maple Ridge, despite a deadline for those living there to clear their belongings. (Megan Batchelor)

The city served the tent dwellers with a notice to cease camping in the area, demanding they remove all belongings by Tuesday, Oct. 6. Despite the deadline, 17 tents remained at the site on Tuesday evening.

"They're making it impossible. They come by daily," said Lancaster.

"If anything's outside our tent, they take it. If we're not at our campsite, they take it. We have nothing left."

Neighbours want camp gone

The city says it's prepared to get a court injunction to force the remaining squatters out — a welcome response from some of the people who live in the area.

"It affects my two daughters," said nearby resident Samantha Campbell.

"I'm lucky they're teenaged, because otherwise I probably wouldn't let them on the street. That was their route if they wanted to walk town, now there's no way."

The new 40-bed RainCity Housing shelter opened its doors last week. It has hot food, water, and bathroom facilities. But for some living in the homeless camp, it isn't an option.

"I've been barred from over there because of someone there who made it uncomfortable, so where can I go?" said Lancaster.

RainCity Housing said it couldn't speak to Lancaster's specific situation, but that "absolutely nobody" has been barred from the low-barrier shelter since it opened.

"Things do happen, but since we've been open, it's been quiet," said RainCity associate director Sean Spear.

Spear ​said the housing agency is hoping to work with those living at the camp to provide an alternative place to stay.

"After people move in to the shelter, they're worked on finding a more permanent housing solution," said Spear. "That type kind of case management happens on day one over the next six months to find more permanent housing for everyone."

With files from Megan Batchelor

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