A victory for residents of Anita Place

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(Photo credit: Geoff Webb, members of Anita Place tent city and Pivot Legal Society,
Nov. 27, 2017)

For several months, we have had the honour of standing alongside the residents of Anita Place tent city in Maple Ridge in their fight to protect the only space they can call “home”.

For the second time, the City of Maple Ridge has threatened the residents with eviction by way of injunction; and for the second time, we have worked closely alongside our clients to mount a robust legal defence armed with evidence of the site’s positive impact on people’s health, safety, and sense of community. Last month, yet again, the City reconsidered its approach and decided to adjourn its application.

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(Photo credit: Katrina Pacey; Pivot lawyer Anna Cooper and lawyers Raj Mittal, David Wotherspoon, and Marguerite Ethier arriving at BC Supreme Court; Nov. 27, 2017)

During the BC Supreme Court hearing, rather than going to court to argue for the right of Anita Place residents to exist in the encampment, we entered into a consent order with the City of Maple Ridge. This is meant to address some of the immediate life safety concerns at Anita Place and will provide desperately needed resources for residents who have been working hard to keep the camp safe for all. This includes fire-safe tents and tarps, as well as the installation of a modular washroom onsite.

Housing Justice for all.

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(Photo credit: Peter Kim, Anita Place tent city, Nov. 18, 2017)

This order is an important victory for the residents of Anita Place, and hopefully a symbol of a new path forward—one in which cities collaborate with residents facing homelessness to ensure their safety. It is a necessary alternative to the punitive use of bylaws and regulations that destroy residents’ homes and force vulnerable people into forests and back allies.

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(Photo credit: Katrina Pacey, members of Anita Place at BC Supreme Court, Nov. 27, 2017)

The residents of Anita Place have shown incredible resilience and courage in the face of a hostile community which has so often met them with violence and hatred. They have persisted in creating an enclave of safety and security, where we have routinely witnessed people caring for one another, and where there have been no fatal overdoses despite an escalating opioid overdose crisis. All of this is an incredible testament to the life-saving role this encampment is playing every day.

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(Photo credit: Peter Kim, Pivot lawyer Anna Cooper speaking on On the Coast with the CBC's Stephen Quinn, Nov. 27, 2017)

Now that this latest litigation threat has subsided, we can move forward in our collective advocacy for what our clients really want: housing, and not just for them, but for all the people of Maple Ridge who are experiencing homelessness.

While this is an important victory, the work isn’t over. We’re going to continue working with the residents of Anita Place to ensure safety and compliance with the consent order, and continue pushing for permanent housing. If you haven’t made a gift yet, you can do so today and help Pivot Legal Society and our clients in the next phase of our shared fight for justice.