VIDEO: Maple Ridge tent city lawyers suing province

Pivot Legal says people in Maple Ridge camp have nowhere to go

Lawyers for the Anita Place Tent City are now taking on the province, saying Thursday they’ve filed court proceedings against Victoria.

Residents at Anita's Place Tent City deliver a statement, hours after announcing they are taking the province to court. SEE MORE: http://www.mapleridgenews.com/news/tent-city-lawyers-taking-on-the-province/

Posted by The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News on Thursday, June 29, 2017

“On any given night, 35,000 people in Canada will be homeless; thousands will have no other option but to live in parks and other public spaces,” D.J. Larkin, with Pivot Legal Society, said Thursday.

“For many, homelessness is an early death sentence. We know that homeless people have about half the life-expectancy as people who are housed. Ensuring that everyone in B.C. has access to adequate housing is the right thing, the smartest thing, and the cost effective thing to do for all British Columbians.”

She cited the province’s abandonment of two possible sites last year that could have been locations for shelters or supportive housing complex for which B.C. Housing is providing $15 million.

Former Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton opposed those sites, both on Lougheed Highway, following public protests and petitions.

The society has added the provincial government to the list in its litigation with the City of Maple Ridge. The society is fighting an injunction application by the city to clear the camp. However, Maple Ridge has said it’s pausing its application.

Pivot is arguing the province is putting the safety and liberty of homeless people at risky “actively creating the conditions” that led to the camp.

One of the camp residents, Dwayne Martin, said people can’t find housing based on income assistance levels. A single person gets a maximum of $610 a month.

Both NDP and Liberals have promised to raise those rates.

“We are tired of being kicked out of every doorway. We are just trying to protect ourselves from the weather, violence, from having every last thing we own taken away.”

Ivan Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement, which organized the camp, said without senior government help, nothing will change.

“The province is responsible for every gap here.”

Drury is expected to announce today, at 1 p.m., a plan for the voluntary dispersal of the camp.

Pivot Legal said previous court rulings have shown that governments can’t clear tent cities unless there’s housing or shelter for people to go.

The camp still doesn’t have portable washrooms, which the city will now allow after forcing the removal of ones placed there before.

“We still don’t have the outhouses. We still don’t have garbage pickup,” said Amber Blais, at teh camp.

Garbage is accumulating at the camp and beginning to smell.