An evacuation order at the controversial Anita Place homeless camp in Maple Ridge has been lifted.
Many of the dozens of residents were moved to a temporary shelter on Lougheed Highway.
In a news release Monday afternoon, the City of Maple Ridge said 35 propane tanks and 800 cubic metres of fire-related debris have since been removed.
It’s also developed a safety plan, including a site perimeter and 24-hour security. New people who arrive will be prohibited from moving in.
“The city has erected a perimeter all around the camp with only one access point and they have bylaw security guards and RCMP staffing the gate at the checkpoint,” said Ivan Drury, advocate with the group, Alliance Against Displacement.
“They’re only allowing access to people who they say were verified as official occupants of the camp, back during registration over two days in late February.”
The city confirms only verified camp residents, their legal counsel and government outreach workers will now be allowed to access the site.
Verification process criticized
Lawyers representing the homeless campers are also questioning the registration process.
“That process was extremely barrier-filled and had several problems with it,” said Caitlin Shane with Pivot Legal Society. “There were a number of people who didn’t get identified despite wanting to get identified.”
The city said the verification measure will ensure registered occupants have applied for housing services.
But Shane argued the city didn’t give everyone the proper opportunity to identify themselves.
“The camp was entirely shut down for a large period of the second day [of February] so that no one was allowed on site during which time the city was supposed to be identifying people but was not.”
The city said the size of the encampment will continue to shrink as verified occupants are connected with support services.
In the meantime, no new construction materials or solid structures will be allowed on the site. All propane, gasoline, aerosol paint cans and other ignition sources are also banned.
B.C. Housing is in the process of restoring power to the washroom and shower facility and is installing a heating system for the warming tent.