An army of neon-vested workers spent their lunch hour picking up trash along the Haney Bypass in Maple Ridge on Wednesday.
The volunteers, including staff and clients from the Salvation Army’s Caring Place, the District of Maple Ridge, Westridge Security, the downtown business association, police and firefighters turned out in force to “take back the community.”
The wooded area behind the Caring Place, off Cliff Avenue, is favoured as a camping spot for the homeless and has become a dumping ground for everything from bicycle parts to tents, tarps, clothes and construction material.
“We just want to send a united message to the community that we are committed to cleaning it up,” said Ridge Meadows RCMP Insp. Dave Fleugel, stopping on the bypass for a moment with a half-full garbage bag in his hand.
By cleaning up the neighbourhood, the group hopes to push out unsavoury elements and allow residents to once again take pride in their streets.
The Caring Place has been doing a weekly cleanup in the neighbourhood for the past year and invited others to join them Wednesday in what it hopes becomes a regular event.
“The Caring Place is committed to this community and we want to show that we are a positive influence here and we want to make it a cleaner place for the residents of Maple Ridge,” said shelter manager Michael Emery.
“It’s something we have chosen to do and we are proud to do it. It is a small thing we can do to help the community.”