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

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

Stop checks, searches of Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposers unlawful: Watchdog

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs file complaint

Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

“Protesters get one side of the story and they stand up with their fists in the air.”

Bachrach rejects calls for police action against demonstrators

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP says only way out of crisis is “true nation-to-nation” talks

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Petition slams Victoria councillor who chastised police after Wetsuweten protest

Ben Isitt calls effort to get him suspended is not a ‘reliable barometer of public opinion’

Most Read