Hail and rain deluged Anita Place Tent City on Friday. (THE NEWS/files)

B.C. tent city ‘devastated’ after flash flood

Maple Ridge mayor says that residents shouldn’t have to return to their flooded tents

People are making their way back to Anita Place Tent City after Friday’s flash flood tore through the camp, ripping down tarps and inundating tents.

But they shouldn’t have to return to tent city, says Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.

“Those people shouldn’t be back in the camp,” Read said on Monday.

“The camp needs to go, that’s the end of the story at this point.”

Read said conditions now are even worse than before the storm.

“It really highlighted the challenges we’re dealing with in this camp. The camp was pretty uninhabitable. Is it really inhabitable now? It’s soaking wet. They were completely under water,” Read said.

“It remains this huge hazard for people to be in there. It’s really disappointing that we can have a situation like that, and then everybody goes right back into the camp.”

It’s unacceptable that people have to be living rough in there for another winter, she added.

Anita Place Tent City opened in the spring of 2017.

After the storm, 44 residents were bused up to the Greg Moore Youth Centre and stayed there Friday and Saturday nights. A local church also opened its doors on Sunday for some tent city residents.

About 20 people remained in the camp after the storm, fire chief Howard Exner said earlier.

Read expected most residents who were in the tent city before the storm will return. She hasn’t heard of B.C. Housing providing any alternative emergency housing location.

Safety issues at the camp are taxing Maple Ridge’s fire and rescue service, Read added.

The mayor, though, wouldn’t say if the city was planning to seek an injunction to clear the camp because of safety issues.

There needs to be more housing in addition to the 55 modular homes that open next month on Royal Crescent, she added.

The province knows that more than 55 people are homeless in Maple Ridge.

“People living rough, outdoors, for another winter, is just not acceptable.”

She defended city council’s rejection in May of an 85-unit supportive housing shelter on Burnett Street because the city wanted more health resources for that facility.

“From a city council perspective, we have an entire city to consider.”

The pressure for cities to be the approving parties for such shelters puts them in a difficult situation, Read said. It’s the city’s responsibility to weigh the balance for the entire city.

And B.C. Housing still has a responsibility to provide emergency housing for people in tent city, she added.

“This is not the jurisdiction of the local government. This is a massive systemic failure in so many levels that fall under provincial domain,” Read said.

B.C. Housing, however, has said it’s now up to the city to find a new location for a supportive housing complex.

Ivan Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement, said Monday that most people have returned to tent city and added that the provincial government has promised to replace sleeping bags and blankets that have been ruined by the water.

But most of that hasn’t shown up yet.

And what has been replaced is of cheaper quality goods that are not going to last, he added.

The flooding has created a disaster at the camp, Drury said.

The camp’s residents say their tents were levelled and poles and canopies snapped by hail, while more than a metre of water crashed through camp, soaking and washing away their belongings.

In a news release Monday, Drury asked if the B.C. government responds differently to victims of a natural disaster if they are already homeless.

“And why does it take a flood for the B.C. government only recognize homelessness as a disaster?”

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

Just Posted

Talks with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs enter second day

Federal and provincial ministers ready to extend discussions

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning Coastal GasLink

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Wet’suwet’en herreditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

‘The project is proceeding’: Horgan not backing down from support of Coastal GasLink

B.C. premier speaks as talks scheduled with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Lawyer gets house arrest for possessing child porn

Maple Ridge resident gets nine-month term

Notorious B.C. fugitive to be extradited from California on murder charge

Brandon Nathan Teixeira submitted to extradition during court proceedings Thursday in Sacramento

Canada prepared to monitor for community spread of COVID-19: Tam

The U.S. confirmed one case of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California Thursday

Most Read