(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

Upper Skeena Recreation Centre evacuated after ammonia leak detected

The leak was related to refrigerators responsible for ice maintenance of the skating rink

Skeena Voices | The perfect fit

Seamstress Elaine Craig opened her own customized dress shop to empower women

Council approves $141,500 in property tax exemptions

TDCSS group homes left out after bylaw change

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

The Northern View announces inaugural Tyee Fishing Derby in Prince Rupert

More than $7,000 up for grabs for biggest legal salmon and halibut

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read