(THE NEWS/files) Jamie Seip, seen here at the Rally for Ridge events is part of a group that is cleaning up homeless camps.

Residents in this B.C. town defend cleaning up homeless camps

Homeless advocate has complained to police about ‘vigilantism’

A group of citizens is taking down homeless camps in Maple Ridge, hauling tents and other materials to the dump, and metal – including bike parts – to the recycling depot.

Jamie Seip speaks for the group. He spoke last spring during the Rally for Ridge public protests of the low-barrier supportive housing shelter on Burnett Street. That housing complex just opened Tuesday.

“We’re not displacing anybody,” Seip said. “We’re cleaning up messes left behind. If it’s unoccupied, it’s gone.”

Seip said they have cleaned up four tons of trash in six days, and noted “it’s all out of pocket, and it’s all on our own time.”

Seip maintains they are taking action where police and bylaws cannot.

“Governments tend to over-complicate things,” said Seip.

“If the government did what we are doing, it would cost $300,000 for the pilot year.”

They are not being heartless, said Seip, and explained he gave a homeless girl who had been stranded in Maple Ridge a ride back to her home town of Chilliwack. He drove another person to Port Coquitlam.

There have been no altercations. He has checked with RCMP and bylaws and has not been told to cease and desist, he added.

“We’ve had RCMP and bylaws literally high-fiving us,” said Seip.

There have been a lot of positive and encouraging comments about the group’s work posted in social media.

The group checks the sites they have “cleared,” which include a vacant lot on 228th Street, and a wooded area of 232nd Street and another near Glenwood elementary school, near Laity Street and 121st Avenue.

Chris Bossley, who was an advocate for the homeless people living at the Anita Place Tent City, has asked police to investigate.

“This ridiculous activity against people who are homeless is unacceptable as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

“Basically what they are doing is tearing down people’s homes …”

Other detractors have called the group’s actions vigilantism and cruel in their social media posts. Bossley has complained to Ridge Meadows RCMP.

Police said they have no comment at this time.

Bossley said she would be at the Tuesday night meeting of Maple Ridge council to bring the matter to the city’s attention.

She fears the group’s activities will lead to violent confrontations.

“I don’t understand how people can take the law into their own hands, and there are no consequences,” said Bossley. “This has to be nipped in the bud.”

If there is violence, it will not come from his group, said Seip.

“We are not going to hurt a soul,’ he said, adding the goal is to “One block at a time, make it a little better.”


 

@NeilCorbett18
ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cullen gets $89,000 in post-MP severance

At 55, the former MP will also be eligible for an $82,000 per annum pension

PHOTOS: Masset Remembers

Veterans, the Legion, the RCMP and the town came out to honour all those who have bravely served

Freezing rain warning issued for central Interior Remembrance Day

Highway alerts in place for Begbie Summitt and Pine Pass

Saturday morning earthquake hits waters off Haida Gwaii

No injuries reported, tsunami not expected

BCTF rejects mediator’s recommendations for settlement

Negotiations between B.C. teachers and the province will continue

VIDEO: Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Vancouver Island soap company releases Lucky Lager beer soap

Beer-infused olive oil soap comes out just in time for holiday shopping

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later

The sentence comes 13 years after Shaoxin Zhang, 19, was killed in a Burnaby parking lot

Most Read