Dwayne Martin sits by his tent in Antia Place Tent City. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Maple Ridge tent city digs in for the winter

Injunction process in court, no updates mayor says

Dwayne Martin is one of the original campers at Anita Place Tent City and he is preparing to dig his heels in for the winter if he has to.

Ten winters, he says, or until the campers are provided with proper housing. The 47-year-old, though, is doubtful he will see modular housing in his lifetime.

Martin has two tents set up along a gravel pathway, provided by B.C. Housing, in the tent city, one to live in and the other as storage or for people to crash in, for those who have been turned away from the nearby Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.

Martin has already started to dig trenches, like other campers, directing water away from his living space. He points to a tarp around three metres long and about a metre high that he has erected from the ground up.

“This stops a lot of the wind that comes in at the bottom of my tent,” he explained.

“I am going to dig a trench right along this whole side and dig this tarp down so it stops the water going in,” Martin added.

The tough Newfoundlander says he is not afraid of the winter but worries about campers around him.

Across the gravel path is another tent that his friend Merle lives in. Merle weighs about 80 pounds and walks around with a cane. So, Martin says, he spends most of his time in the tent.

“That’s why he is right across from me so I can make sure he is OK,” said Martin.

On Oct. 24, the City of Maple Ridge decided to resume an injunction process to get rid of the camp due to concerns about the health, safety and fire risk to the residents.

At the time, Mayor Nicole Read said that they had no choice but to resume the injunction process saying that “the safety of people in the camp, the fire department, police, other first responders and the surrounding neighbourhood has deteriorated.”

Now the city is asking nearby businesses and residents to submit impact statements as the injunction process makes its way through the courts.

“The challenge with it though is it’s a legal process,” said Read when asked for an update.

“I can’t go into detail like who we are collecting statements from. There’s obviously impact statements that go to the court from people who are being impacted but I don’t know if we can speak to any numbers specifically,” she said.

But Environment Canada is calling for five centimetres of snow in the Fraser Valley by the end of this week.

The Salvation Army is already prepared to increase capacity by five for a major extreme weather response in Maple Ridge and it’s working with B.C. Housing on implementing a plan and exploring various options.

When the temperature goes below 0 C, it is up to Darrell Pilgrim, executive-director of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, to call an extreme weather response.

Then, for each night of inclement weather, the shelter will be open for about 10 hours to help people with their health and their safety.

“We are looking to increase the capacity knowing that the capacity last year varied from 15 to 30 depending on the weather,” said Dominic Flanagan, with B.C. Housing. The agency is also searching for an appropriate space and location for a new shelter to operate well.

“I am optimistic that a space will become available and we will have more news and updates in the next couple of weeks,” said Flanagan.

Back at the camp, Ivan Drury with the group Alliance Against Displacement, says that campers are doing the best they can with what they have available to them. He is waiting to see better tarps promised to them by B.C. Housing.

“Tents are not allowed to be joined by a single tarp and they have to have three feet between them.

And for the most part we are able to do that. There’s a couple where the barrier to doing that is that we don’t have the proper tarps.

He says they are bettering the camp all the time and trying to make the conditions of being in the winter outside as bearable and survivable as possible.

“The truth is what the camp does is, it makes people’s struggles against that brutal weather visible. It puts it out in the open,” said Drury.

He worries that if the camp is broken up by a court injunction, then the residents will be forced to the woods by themselves.

“There’s no way the fire chief will go and find those individuals up in the woods,” he said referring to the weekly camp walk-through by the city, fire department and RCMP.

“So those people in the woods will have little generators and fire risky electrical connections to it. They’re going to have fires right outside their tents or in their tents. They are going to have lots of candles. They are going to have every kind of heating apparatus that a person would do in desperation to chase off the cold,” he said.

“The battle against cold and wet will be made far worse and the fire danger of those individual camps spread out throughout in hiding will be way worse than what it is in one place,” said Drury.

Ultimately, the group is hoping that the courts will see the safety, health and other supports that benefit the residents when they are able to gather and support one another.

“(They) stay connected with services, stay connected with each other, provide harm reduction services, access food, and access many of the safety and other safety measures that are made available here,” explained Katrina Pacey, executive director of the Pivot Legal Society.

“We are very hopeful the court will understand that and understand that displacing people into isolated homelessness is a violation of some of their most fundamental rights,” she said.

For now, Martin says it’s a madhouse at the camp trying to keep everything dry.

“We are not asking for free give outs. Just something affordable. Something we can live in and afford to live in,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Dwayne Martin adjusts the tarp by his tent in Antia Place Tent City. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

(Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS) The Maple Ridge Fire Department along with people from the City of Maple Ridge and the Ridge Meadows RCMP do a walk-through of Anita Place Tent City on Wednesday.

(Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS) Maple Ridge Fire Department and Ivan Drury check out tarps on Wednesday.

Just Posted

Surrey seniors call Seniors’ Centre Without Walls, a new-to-B.C. program

‘Crazy coincidence’ saw program connect soon after COVID-19 pandemic hit

Surrey pushing the poor out of Whalley, public hearing speakers say

‘There is a war on the poor here in Surrey,’ resident Dave Diewert tells city council

IHIT investigating death of Surrey woman

Injured woman was taken to SMH early Tuesday morning

Charges laid in 2019 single-vehicle crash in Surrey that killed young soccer star

Dilpreet Sandhu, 19, faces eight charges in early morning crash that killed Brandon Bassi

Surrey Mounties seize guns, drugs and cash from Guildford residence

One man was arrested but no charges have been laid as investigation continues

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

COVID claims 23rd Langley Lodge patient, making it the deadliest outbreak in B.C.

Coronavirus kills another senior at Langley care home, bringing B.C. total to 166

Family of dead B.C. football star urge changes to mental health policies in hospitals

Uko family disappointed in actions of Regina hospital, hosting public funeral service this weekend

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Maple Ridge woman fights WorkSafe BC over police widow’s pension

Dalila Vroom says husband, Const. Rob Vroom, died as a result of PTSD from time with Abbotsford PD

Most Read