British Columbia

Maple Ridge reaches agreement over safety issues at homeless camp

The city says it, along with lawyers representing occupants of the camp, will present the agreement in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday. If given consent, it could mean an end to the injunction asking for the removal of the camp.

Agreement could allow homeless camp to remain until more permanent solution found

The Maple Ridge homeless camp — dubbed Anita's Place — was established in May 2017 at St. Anne Avenue and 223 Street. (CBC News)

The City of Maple Ridge says it has reached an agreement with lawyers representing occupants of a homeless camp that could allow it to stay until the province finds a more permanent solution.

In May, a homeless camp was established on St. Anne Avenue and 223rd Street after the only low-barrier homeless shelter in Maple Ridge closed its doors when its funding ran out.

In early summer, the city sought an injunction to remove the camp, but paused the process to give B.C. Housing time to find somewhere else for them to go. 

After arguing no significant progress was made, the city resumed with the injunction in October.

Lawyers from Pivot Legal Society have been fighting the injunction and will appear in B.C. Supreme Court Monday morning to argue against it.

On Sunday, however, the City of Maple Ridge issued a statement saying it had reached an agreement with lawyers representing up to 80 occupants at the site.

It says the agreement addresses safety issues identified during regular inspections at the camp.

Camp problems

In the summer the city said there were fire risks at the camp, as well as reports of criminal activity and aggressive behaviour from its occupants.

The city says if the agreement is made binding in court between the two parties, then it will abandon its request to have the camp removed. 

The city did not return calls to further explain its release, while Pivot Legal Society also did not provide comment on the agreement on Sunday.

Both parties said they will present the agreement in court Monday morning. 

Maple Ridge said the agreement will provide B.C. Housing more time to figure out how to house people living at the camp.

It also wants the province to engage in public dialogue with the community in order to mitigate concerns over where a new shelter might be built and any impacts to the neighbourhood.

In March 2016, the province scuttled plans to turn a local motel into a homeless shelter after their was strong opposition from local residents.