(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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rod Peters resigns as mayor of Lake Cowichan

Byelection expected in the fall

Cowichan RCMP looking for someone who shone laser at aircraft

Several instances reported over Cowichan Valley

Cowichan’s Waldon Park ready for Gord Closson Classic

the Gord Closson Fall Classic will kick off its second half-century this August 21-23

Sonia Furstenau column: MCFD needs overhaul of requirements for social workers

BCASW advocating for mandatory registration for social workers with B.C. College of Social Workers.

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Most Read