Residents of Maple Ridge homeless camp arrested as city enforces court injunction

Police stand outside the Maple Ridge homeless camp known as Anita's Place on Sunday, where the city was enforcing a court injunction. Global News

Six people were arrested Sunday as a court injunction was enforced against a Maple Ridge homeless camp, an operation that began Saturday and could take days to complete.

In a statement, Ridge Meadows RCMP say the arrests are for alleged violation of the injunction and other criminal code offences. Three of those arrested will be appearing Monday in B.C. Supreme Court on alleged violation of the injunction order, and the remaining three will be appearing Monday in provincial court on various alleged Criminal Code offences.

The weekend saw several clashes outside the Anita’s Place camp. Residents and their supporters say the police presence and court order were unjustified, while neighbours want the camp taken down once and for all.

“There’s no housing for these people so actually keeping them together in one contained space is the best thing the city can do at this point, rather than disbanding the camp and leaving them to disperse throughout the community,” said Chris Bossley, a Maple Ridge resident and supporter of the camp, on Sunday.

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READ MORE: Woman suffers burns in 6th fire in 18 months at Maple Ridge homeless camp

Others who showed up to witness the enforcement said the police were simply doing their job.

“Nobody hates these people, but their behaviour and the things that they’ve been doing has made a lot of us that live here — I live right here — frustrated because we seem to be ignored,” neighbour Ramona Stimpfl said.

WATCH (Aired Feb. 9): Judge grants injunction against Maple Ridge homeless camp

Click to play video: 'Judge grants injunction against Maple Ridge homeless camp' Judge grants injunction against Maple Ridge homeless camp
Judge grants injunction against Maple Ridge homeless camp – Feb 9, 2019

The injunction, which was issued on Feb. 8, allows the City of Maple Ridge to remove fire hazards, including electrical equipment and propane tanks, as well as to take an inventory of everyone living in the camp.

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The order was requested after at least six fires had been reported in the camp since it was erected in May 2017, one of which left a woman with serious burns. More than 40 overdoses have also been reported.

READ MORE: Long promised modular housing finally set to open in Maple Ridge

But campers and their supporters say the injunction will actually make them less safe, as it will take away heating equipment set up among the tents that they say is critical to keeping them alive.

“They’re concerned about our safety, apparently, by taking all our propane tanks out, but that’s our only source of heat,” camper Dwayne Martin said. “They are basically making us dig our own graves.”

WATCH (Aired Dec. 30, 2018): Fire breaks out at Maple Ridge homeless camp

Click to play video: 'Fire at Maple Ridge homeless camp' Fire at Maple Ridge homeless camp
Fire at Maple Ridge homeless camp – Dec 30, 2018

On Saturday, skirmishes broke out between campers and their critics as the two groups argued over the injunction and the camp itself. More than 50 officers have since been kept on site to maintain the peace.

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Police said Sunday’s arrests were a result of campers and their supporters violating the injunction by trying to keep officers out of the camp and refusing to allow inspections.

READ MORE: City of Maple Ridge reaches agreement with ‘Anita’s place’ homeless camp

In a statement, the Alliance Against Displacement said one of the people arrested has lived in the camp since its opening, while two others were local residents who were championing their cause.

The group is urging people to visit the camp to “witness and document the suffocation of a homeless space of survival.”

On Monday, the Pivot Legal Society said they were filing an appeal of the injunction in B.C. Supreme Court, calling the city’s enforcement of the order “aggressive, non-collaborative, and wrongful.”

“We intend to appeal Justice Grauer’s Order on an expedited basis and inform the Court of the City and RCMP’s misconduct,” Pivot staff lawyer Caitlin Shane said in a statement.

“The City refuses to collaborate and communicate with residents of Anita Place, despite their stated commitment to do so,” Shane added.

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