Pivot Legal Society responds to most recent Anita Place ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 18, 2019

 

Vancouver, BC – On July 15, 2019, Justice Grauer released a ruling regarding Pivot Legal Society’s application to clarify his February 8, 2019 Order. The ruling is the latest in a series of Court decisions regarding the Anita Place tent city in the City of Maple Ridge.

The Ruling can be found here.

The Ruling amends the February 8 Order in favour of the residents of Anita Place; refutes the City’s contention that Pivot’s clients lack standing to bring the application; and instructs that the issue of constitutionality of the City’s actions were not within his jurisdiction at this time, but can be properly addressed in a future application.

The Ruling orders the City to provide Pivot with the list of 47 people who should be eligible to live at Anita Place. The City of Maple Ridge also consented and Justice Grauer agreed that people should be able to present themselves for verified residency on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, the ruling amended the Order to provide greater privacy protection for Anita Place residents.

Contrary to the City’s July 16, 2019 media release, the Court did not condone the City’s conduct in relation to the original Order. Justice Grauer made clear that a number of the City’s actions, including blocking visitors and searching residents at the gate, were not the intention of his Order.

Also contrary to the City’s media release, Justice Grauer did not recognize the City’s right to engage in these actions on other bases. Rather, the Court clarified the City may have this authority under the Trespass Act, but “whether, in doing so, it has breached any rights of the defendants or others who seek access to the St. Anne Lands is not a matter that comes within the scope of this application.”

The Court did not condone the City’s “priorities and approach” regarding Anita Place, and invited the parties to bring another application regarding the constitutionality of the City’s conduct.

The City of Maple Ridge continues to expend significant resources to weaponize the law in order to treat homeless people as second-class citizens and to displace residents of Anita Place. City officials and authorities continue to deny access to the Anita Place, the only accessible Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in the City during one of the most fatal health crises we have faced.

The City has clearly demonstrated that it has the resources to support local homeless residents, but instead chooses to use those resources to police and stigmatize those who most need their help. The City’s actions multiply harm and resolve nothing, guaranteeing Maple Ridge will be stuck at the impasse of stigma and denial for the foreseeable future, while local homeless residents bear the consequences.

Anna Cooper, staff lawyer with Pivot Legal Society, will be available for comment.

Contact

Sozan Savehilaghi
Communications & Digital Engagement Manager
Pivot Legal Society
604-255-9700 Ext. 154
sozan@pivotlegal.org 

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Background

Anita Place was founded in May 2017 by a group of residents in Maple Ridge, BC. That same month, the City filed an injunction application to close the camp but adjourned the hearing at the last minute after receiving extensive evidence from residents of Anita Place. In the fall of 2017, the City brought forward a second injunction application to disband the camp and evict its residents. The matter was settled by the signing of a Consent Order in which both parties agreed to work together to provide safety supplies to Anita Place residents. The City continues to leverage litigation against Anita Place residents in efforts to minimize the camp, despite failing to provide meaningful housing for residents who do not have other options.

About Pivot Legal Society

Pivot Legal Society is a leading Canadian human rights organization that uses the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Canada. Pivot’s award-winning work includes challenging laws and policies that force people to the margins of society and keep them there. Since 2002 Pivot has won major victories for sex workers’ rights, police accountability, affordable housing, and health and drug policy.

Housing Justice for all.