After arrests at Maple Ridge homeless camp, legal society appeals B.C. Supreme Court order

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      In the wake of arrests at a tent city in Maple Ridge, a local nonprofit legal society has filed an appeal to a B.C. Supreme Court order.

      On February 8, the B.C. Supreme Court granted the City of Maple Ridge and its fire department a civil injunction to address fire safety at the Anita Place homeless encampment located at 11683 223 Street.

      B.C. Supreme Court acknowledged the RCMP’s discretion in enforcing the injunction. 

      The camp was established on May 2, 2017, as a protest against unaffordable housing and the closure of a local shelter.

      Since that time, police claim to have responded to 660 reports about the camp, including 81 calls about weapons, 44 medical overdoses, 57 recovered stolen items, and 82 arrests.  

      A February 24 news release from the City of Maple Ridge stated that when fire officials arrived on February 22, they found the electrical service panel for the camp posed an electrocution risk because it was exposed to the elements and electrical connections had been tampered with, as had been found on previous occasions.

      In addition, fire-department personnel found that a propane tank for a warming tent had been reconfigured to refill small barbecue tanks, which fire officials deemed an “extreme fire hazard”.  The city alleged that the propane supplier arrived at the site and removed their tanks from the site in an action that was not requested by the city.

      The city stated that it is working with B.C. Housing to restore these services safely.

      The City of Maple Ridge stated that fire officials raised concerns about the condition of an electrical panel and propane tanks at the Anita Place tent city.
      City of Maple Ridge

      Under the court order, inspections of tents began on February 23 and continued on February 24, resulting in the removal of items such as propane tanks, fuel cans, gasoline containers, solvents, a gas-powered generator, and portable barbecue and patio heaters.

      On February 24, Maple Ridge RCMP arrested six people for alleged violation of a B.C. Supreme Court injunction order and other Criminal Code offences.

      Three individuals are appearing in B.C. Supreme Court today (February 25) for alleged violation of the injunction order while three others will appear in provincial court today for various offences.

      Pivot Legal Society

      In response to the enforcement, Pivot Legal Society—which assists marginalized communities with strategic legal campaigns—announced today that it has filed an appeal to the B.C. Supreme Court order.

      “We intend to appeal Justice Grauer’s Order on an expedited basis and inform the Court of the City and RCMP’s misconduct over the weekend, which included numerous and egregious contraventions of Justice Grauer’s decision,” Pivot Legal Society staff lawyer Caitlin Shane stated in a news release.

      Pivot Legal Society called the enforcement “aggressive, non-collaborative, and wrongful” and claimed that the city “refuses to collaborate and communicate with residents of Anita Place, despite their stated commitment to do so”.

      The legal advocacy organization previously defended the camp’s residents from enforcement orders and injunctions at B.C. Supreme Court on January 15.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook