(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

Kudos to the Trail road crew

Letter to the Editor from Ron Clarke

Lots to do at Rossland Winter Carnival this weekend

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of Jan. 23 to Jan. 29

Grand Forks emergency shelter to be managed by Boundary Family Services

The organization got Grand Forks city council’s approval on Jan. 15

Market supports Trail food bank

Christmas market volunteers donated $1,000 to Trail United Church this week

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Interior Health issues drug alert in Kamloops

Testing of two samples of drugs sold as crystal meth was positive for fentanyl

Most Read