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Battle to move Maple Ridge tent city continues

Homeless campers in Maple Ridge appear to be in no hurry to pack up even though the city’s deadline for them to vacate the tent city on Cliff Avenue has come and gone.

Despite a notice to cease camping, some occupants say they are not leaving quietly.

“They’re strong-arming us out of here whether we want to be here or not,” tent city occupant Mike Lancaster said.

Some residents say they’d prefer to brave the elements than live in a 40-bed temporary shelter that has been set up across the street.

“We at least in our tents have a little bit of privacy,” Lancaster said.

READ MORE: A history of tent cities in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley

Occupants say there were up to 70 people living in the homeless camp, but since the temporary shelter opened on October 1, that number is down to about 30.

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Operators of the six-month shelter say its 40 beds are close to full with homeless people from Maple Ridge.

Others can also be housed elsewhere but can also disperse. Global News tried to speak with those who say the transition has been positive before witnessing other residents threatening them into silence.

“We need to give that residential street [its] peace back and we need to make sure that all of these people who have long-standing need in our community are connected to the services that are now available.” said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.

As the cleanup on Cliff Avenue continues, some accuse bylaw enforcement of slashing their tents when they aren’t around.

Lancaster has a message for Mayor Read.

“She’s going to have to go and get her injunction,” he said. “People aren’t going to leave.”

Read says that injunction is a few weeks away.

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