Maple Ridge, BC (WNews)- Earlier this afternoon, two rallies were held in Downtown Maple Ridge, both on the same topic, Homeless and Addiction. One for it and other against the modular housing. The BC Housing is putting a temporary low barrier modular housing project on Burnett Street in Maple Ridge. There’s were also a rally nearby by Alliance Against Displacement which is fighting for homes.
Selena Robinson who the housing minister in-charge of housing released a plan in late March for a second modular housing complex. The complex will have 51 units on the provincial own land on Burnett Street. The goal is the people from Anita Place Tent City would move into the temporary housing. .
The last city Council which was led by former Mayor Nicole Read. Read was originally for the low barrier homeless shelter which the province brought to City Council last year. The rezoning was shot down in the first reading by the city council after a huge backlash from the community.
The government has started clearing the land to begin work on the modular housing. The housing is similar to the Royal Crescent temporary modular housing that opened last fall, which has 53 units.
Our City, Our Choice Rally
The Burnett Neighbours Rally was held at Memorial Peace Park with speakers going against the low barrier modular housing on Burnett. The group especially Rose Mary who spoke at the rally, said that democracy has been lost by the government. They had their first rally on March 30, 2019, which brought over 200 people to the park.
Cassandra Alford was the first speaker out of the seven people. Alford mentioned that her family members has been dealing with addiction issues. Alford moved to Maple Ridge and brought a house with her husband and her kids.
Many people brought up the issues of break and entering including door checking on vehicles. WNews has heard over and over from the last couple of days from interviewing people in Maple Ridge.
Rose-Mary spoke once again and mentioned that Bob D’Eith- MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission Riding, finally spoke with Burnett Street Neighbours Group which he denied accepting the petition which has over 10,000 signatures from the people of Maple Ridge. The group had mentioned that D’Eith has refused to meet with the community with an open forum.
Wesley Mann who met with D’Eith mentioned that the MLA is refusing to acknowledge the increasing crime including drug dealing, drug use, prosecution and violence. D’Eith has said the issues in the community it’s fear mongering.
Jesse Stretch is also upset with the BC Government and John Horgan. During his speech, he called Horgan an “a$$hole” for not listening to the people of Maple Ridge. He had many names for the NDP including the “Non-Democratic Party”.
Stretch also mentioned that over 25,000 signatures have been collected since 2015 from 3 different petitions.
The rally was attended by over 500 people. The main focus was over public drug use, thief and lack of safety. The other focus is the issue of lack of trust between local and provincial governments. A lot of the people who attend were young families and older people.
Marc Dalton who’s running for the Conservative Party for October federal election spoke at the rally. Dalton was the Liberal MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission Riding who help stopped the Province from buying a hotel to house the homeless back a few years ago.
Joe Fiss spoke on his addiction that he faced in his past and how the treatment got him where he is today. He’s has a job and married which he told the large crowd. He doesn’t support the model that the government is trying to put on Maple Ridge.
Jamie Seip, who organized the rally, told the group that a recall process has been started. The are getting volunteers for a recall campaign against Bob D’Eith. As the same as last name, the group called John Horgan and left him a voicemail which mentioned the recall process.
Mayor Mike Morden spoke near the end of the rally which he mentioned the issues facing the community including the drug use by the addicts and lack of safety. Morden mentioned the issue of lack of democracy from the NDP.
Morden spoke last week in a 30 minutes interview described the homeless and addicts as “Raping and Pillaging the community”. The comments sparked outrage from the homeless advocates and even Premier John Horgan. Morden released a planned for how to deal with the community’s homeless situation which the province rejected the plan.
Alliance Against Displacement Rally
The other party, Alliance Against Displacement had a rally at 223 St and Lougheed Hwy near Anita Place Homeless Camp. Traffic was blocked for a bit by the protesters with Chris Bossley, Ivan Drucy and others. The group wants affordable housing with privacy and free from 24-hour staff.
The group are upset about the city breaking up the camp with the court injunction back in February. The city got a court order injunction which saw the removal of propane tanks and the power cut off especially to the warming tent. They felt they had safety and privacy with their tents.
During that month, there were three major fires that caused damages to the tents and the surrounding area. The cause is suspected to be from the propane tanks. Some people have put the blame on the tent city for the cause while AAD has been saying it was arson from an outside group.
Tracy Scott who has been homeless for years, spoke to WNews in which she mentioned that the issue of lack of affordable housing. She told us that she understands both sides of the issue.
She mentioned that there’s a risk of relapse if they go to treatment and don’t have a place to live afterwards. Scott said it’s a waste of money if they don’t have a place to go to and are throw back into the streets. She wants compassion and love from all sides. Yesterday, there’s was a Love, Not hate rally in the downtown core.
Scott said that everyone has an addiction whether it’s coffee, tea or other things. She mentioned that humans have free well, where animals don’t.
Chris Bossley also spoked to WNews but denied an on-camera interview told us that lack of affordable housing is a huge issue in the region. She mentioned that the Mayor supporters are condemning the homelessness and addicts which she feels is not right.
Bossley strongly condemns the comments that Mayor Michael Morden made in April describing the homeless as “raping and pillaging the community”
What your Opinion on the homeless issues in Maple Ridge? Sound off below in the comments.
Story updated at 8:53 pm PDT April 14, 2019: to update the headline and add a few more details.
Story Update at 10:32 pm PDT: We fixed a few errors. The previous number for the number of unit of the Royal Crescent Modular housing was incorrect and has been updated to 53 units. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.
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