For Immediate Release
June 4, 2019
UNCEDED KATZIE & KWANTLEN TERRITORY (MAPLE RIDGE): Homeless and low-income drug users are calling a press conference to demand Fraser Health immediately open an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in Maple Ridge.
For over two years, Anita Place Tent City saved hundreds of lives as an unsanctioned, community-run OPS. Now closed to the vast majority of its former residents and all visitors due to Mayor Mike Morden’s abuse of the powers awarded him by a court order, drug users in Maple Ridge have lost the only safe site available to them.
On Wednesday, June 5th, current and former camp residents, drug users, activists, and advocates will publicly challenge Fraser Health to ignore local anti-drug user rhetoric and open a lifesaving OPS to replace the one shut down by Mayor Morden.
What: Press conference announcement regarding drug overdoses in Maple Ridge
Where: 22556 Royal Crescent, Maple Ridge, outside the Provincially-owned modular housing
When: Wednesday, June 5th at 1:00 pm
Speakers will include people who operated the unsanctioned community-run OPS in Anita Place, activists involved in starting injection sites in other communities, and Amy Gilbert, who lost her partner Jason to an overdose in the weeks after Mayor Morden closed the safer injection site at the camp.
On April 16th, 2019, Jason Gilbert succumbed to a fatal overdose. His death was a direct result of the closure of Anita Place Tent City. Prior to its closure, Jay could use drugs safely at the camp. There is no longer a safe place to use, access to harm reduction supplies has been disrupted, and Mayor Morden’s fear-mongering and unscientific insistence on a “Made in Maple Ridge” pilot model of abstinence-based housing has increased the shame and stigma that drives people to use in isolation.
If the Province and the City continue to sit back while stigma, isolation, and the lack of an OPS continues to kill our friends and family members at an alarming rate, we will take matters into our own hands. The community is gathering to say, not one more death!