THE NEWS/files                                Garbage piles up at homeless camp in Maple Ridge.

THE NEWS/files Garbage piles up at homeless camp in Maple Ridge.

LETTER: Maple Ridge should be known for something else

‘Get as many people currently living in the protest camp back to functioning members of society.’

Editor, The News:

So now that the NDP has had some time to get into office and get settled, let’s have a quick look at Maple Ridge’s protest camp.

We’re back to where we were back in May of 2015. Except there have been hundreds of thousands of dollars spent and the patch work of temporary fixes are resolving nothing.

The area of 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway has been in a steady decline since the opening of the Salvation Army Caring Place back in 2003.

Let’s be honest here, it’s not simply a Maple Ridge issue – you can insert Langley, Coquitlam, Mission into the sentences listed in this letter, but they aren’t currently home to an organized camp of protesters demanding homes, and inflaming the already hotly debated issue.

Maple Ridge is known for homelessness.

Maple Ridge should be known for its landscape of parks and lakes, its farmers’ market in the downtown core, its sense of community, its abundance of locally owned small businesses, its support of the arts and seniors.

It should be known as a place to live to raise a family, a community that has the infrastructure to support the local demographic, no matter their age or interest.

It should be a community where you can raise a child and shop locally without having to step over a person sleeping on a sidewalk or avoid an area due to its abundance of drug users loitering and panhandling.

Maple Ridge has turned into a city where the taxpayers are held to a different standard than those less fortunate, and now it is being exploited.

What action will be taken with the result of the ‘shelter advisory committee?’ That was to be left to the MLAs, but that was the old provincial government.

What about the mayor’s office, which has been awfully quiet on the topic, except for saying it would not go to court to have the protesters camp shut down.

If I was to park a motor home in front of someone’s house and live in it, I’d get a ticket. If I did it again, I’d get another ticket.

What about the Alliance Against Displacement – it didn’t like the recommendation of having housing outside of the downtown core.

I’m sorry, but if ‘all they need is housing,’ as Ivan Drury is quoted as saying, then providing housing should solve the problem. Wrong.

I don’t think that everyone simply deserves to be given a home. There needs to be a way to quantify it’s effectiveness.

If you can’t afford housing and are going to be provided housing by the taxpaying citizens of B.C., then I’d expect you would be willing to accept what is provided.

Heck, I’d really like to live in Whistler, but I can’t support myself there, and the homes there are really expensive. So what should I do? Protest?

Sometimes you have to differentiate between wants and needs. I think that the people living in the camp need help, but what help do they need?

It’s been discussed at length – mental illness, homelessness, addiction – they need assistance. The goal of that assistance should be to get as many people currently living in the protest camp back to functioning members of society, whatever that capacity is.

That assistance needs to have some checks and balances, to make it worthwhile to both those funding it and those receiving it. Simply providing a home to someone who is unable or unwilling to support themselves is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

I do feel that if you can ride around Maple Ridge on a gas powered bicycle with an iPhone and covered in tattoos that you should be able to support yourself in some capacity through employment (tattoos and fuel are expensive).

If you don’t like the assistance that is being provided, then chose to decline it.

Let’s again be known for a community that supports its residents, as well as one that enforces laws.

We need someone to lead us – not on social media, but in the Legislature.

Alan Robbie

Maple Ridge