Action Maple Ridge is a non-profit, non-partisan group of Maple Ridge residents advocating for “The Will of the People”.
For many of our members, passions have been ignited through first-hand experience in dealing with loved ones and friends who have fought, and in some cases lost, the battle of addiction.
Having seen first hand how enabling perpetuates the cycle of drug abuse, we do not support low barrier shelters or housing without a pathway to treatment on demand. These models fail to act as catalysts for better outcomes.
Like the thousands of people who have signed the petition against the low barrier shelter/ supportive housing proposal being driven by city hall, Action Maple Ridge is unwilling to accept the downward spiral we see on our streets and in our neighbourhoods. Human excrement, condoms, needles, drug deals, prostitution, open use of drugs, theft, assaults, personal property crimes—this is not our Maple Ridge.
Even with the addition of a third ambulance, our police, mental health and EMT services are stretched to the maximum responding to shelter incidents, overdoses and an average of three people dying per month. Our city is on pace for 33 illicit drug overdose deaths in 2016 alone.
The proposed 90-bed facility will more than double the the size of the existing shelter—-with zero additional funding for services.
Even more concerning—-Maple Ridge is being asked to shoulder far more of the burden than other cities and municipalities in the Lower Mainland. With a population just over 80,000 we currently have three low barrier shelters—-the Salvation Army, Rain City and Alouette Heights. Compare this with Pitt Meadows, Langley, Delta, Port Coquitlam, White Rock, Port Moody and Burnaby all of which have no low barrier facilities.
In Maple Ridge, it goes beyond the shelters. In addition to the 100-plus shelter residents we currently host, we have also housed 120 “homeless” in private dwellings scattered throughout the community.
There is no vetting process for those being re-located from shelters to “scattered housing”.
We are also a regional centre for methadone treatment and are under consideration for a safe injection site to service our growing addicted population.
For some, the most troubling aspect of the situation is city hall’s refusal to give credence to the will of the people. Seven thousand signed the petition against the low barrier shelter proposed for the Quality Inn and more than 800 turned up for a rally.
Countless online surveys have come back with opposition to the proposed shelter as high as 90 per cent. This taxpayer input has been dismissed as “non scientific” and anyone who will listen is told the new shelter proposal is welcomed by the community.
Words like transparency and openness are bandied about by the city but actions do not translate. This council has held more in-camera meetings than the last four administrations combined. Voting results are carefully guarded. Items are added to agendas last minute and notice of important meetings are slyly slipped onto the city website with only a few hours notice.
The official BC Housing rollout for the shelter was announced late on a Friday for a 10 am Monday meeting. There was zero public input on the Quality Inn proposal and there will be only minimal input allowed during the four-part public engagement process about the current proposal.
In the meantime thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars are being squandered on a one-sided “engagement process”, a website and a communications drive that does not offer objectivity or anything beyond the agenda driven by city hall.
Calls for a referendum have been ignored, with the mayor describing this as a human rights issue and a moral obligation.
To this we say—-if its a human rights issue then it is not a civic issue. Social issues are the domain of the province and the federal government. Most Maple Ridge residents would argue that’s where they belong.
Where they don’t belong is in the hands of three inexperienced elected officials—-which is where they are now.
Thankfully, it will be our two MLAs that make the final decision based on pubic input through petitions and direct contact.
Sign the petition. Attend the rally. Write your MLAs. Today.
Regardless of where you stand, your opinion is important.
We started Cliff Avenue with 39 living in tents and 45 at the Salvation Army shelter. Right now, Maple Ridge has three low barrier facilities operating at capacity to provide 125 beds. An additional 316 homeless have been placed into 'scattered housing' throughout the community.
Add to this, the 60 individuals still living rough in ravines and wooded areas. We are doing more than other Lower Mainland community. How many homeless are we expected to house? The proposed BC Housing plan will add an additional 50 low barrier beds.
Current # Of
Proposed # Of Beds
Per 1000 People