Anita Place homeless camp.                                (THE NEWS/files)

Anita Place homeless camp. (THE NEWS/files)

Complaints about Maple Ridge homeless camp will be heard

Maple Ridge council to hear delegation on Oct. 24

Maple Ridge business owners frustrated by interactions with homeless people at a nearby camp are scheduled to appear as a delegation before council on Tuesday.

“My life has been threatened many times,” said Mark Lancaster, owner of North Fraser Automotive Repair, which is near Anita Place Tent City on 223rd Street.

He said the disruption since the homeless camp opened is slowly killing his business.

He said there have always been homeless people in Maple Ridge during his six years in the downtown, but he saw the Port Haney neighbourhood as being reinvigorated.

When the low-barrier homeless shelter opened, his problems with the homeless hit a peak. Then,when the shelter closed and Anita Place was established, he said it got even worse.

He said there is frequent theft, and it is caught on video. He has confrontations when he tells people from the camp to leave his shop. Customers don’t want to leave their cars there overnight. There are needles, feces and people yelling at all hours.

His statement to council reads:

“On two separate occasions, two of my customers, both mothers with infants, received highly graphic and violent death threats, warning them against patronizing my shop. I also received numerous death threats, as well as threats that my business would be trashed … ”

He wants the people at the camp to move.

Lancaster had been writing statements for the city to use in its injunction against the camp, and was frustrated when the legal action was halted. He felt the city had an excellent case.

“Why did they drop their lawsuit?” he will ask council. “That lawsuit would have won.”

Kathy Pring is another business owner who wants her frustrations heard. She owns Temptations Salon. It is located in the business tower that also houses city hall, and she has done business there for 17 years.

“Safety is first and foremost with my staff and clients who patronize us,” she said.

The Maple Ridge Mental Health Centre is her neighbour, causing her to have confrontations with patrons, who come into the business and approach staff and clients.

She has to take time out of her business day to deal with these situations, and the unpredictable reactions add to her stress level.

Numerous times, she has security staff from Westridge remove homeless people.

“My stress level is at it’s peak,” she said.

Pring also feels that local government time and resources are being wasted on the homeless file, with no effect. She has attended the dialogues and meetings, and sees no change.

“In recent years, council has spent too much time on it,” she said. “Let’s get something done.”

Grant Contois operates Xpress care on 228th Street, as well as a Pennzoil 10-Minute Oil Change on 216th Street. On Monday, he got video of a person ripping down his security camera in the front of his business on 216th St., then shots of the same individual pulling wires out of a lamp post in the back of his business.

It is just the latest hassle. He has had tires stolen off a vehicle, his vacuums damaged, garbaged dumped.

He is eager to see what other businesses have to say at council.

Ivan Drury, of the Alliance Against Displacement, said people complain about crime or other issues, but there is often no evidence it is related to Anita Place.

“Anecdotally, in the camp, the way people are talking is that they are having less interaction with police now than they were before the camp started. They are having less negative interactions, they are being jacked up less on the street. Anecdotally, it seems like crime and interactions with police are down for camp residents.

Ahmed Yousef, one of the leaders of the delegation, said his request to appear at Maple Ridge council as a delegation to talk about the effects of Anita Place Tent City turned into a frustrating, lengthy process, one in which his democratic rights were suppressed.

Yousef, on Sept. 8, e-mailed a request to the city and was told he could appear at the Oct. 10 council meeting. But on Oct. 6, a senior city staffer visited Yousef’s office to discuss the 10-minute presentation.

After the meeting, Yousef was told a second meeting with staff was needed before the delegation could present to council.

“We would simply review/discuss your presentation materials and perhaps [if appropriate and desired] offer considerations as to how to frame the materials within the context of the meeting,” said the city e-mail.

Staff offered three possible later times for the second meeting, but some in the delegation just showed up for the public question period that took place at the end of the Oct. 11 council meeting.

City staff say they had suggested the Oct. 24 council meeting, but Yousef doesn’t have a record of that.

But Yousef wonders about the point of the prior meetings with staff.

“I don’t know of any group … that was subject to the same amount of scrutiny and censorship simply because they wanted to talk to council,” Yousef said.

Under the city’s procedural bylaw, staff can refuse a delegation if the issue doesn’t fall within the council’s jurisdiction. That decision is up to staff, said Mayor Nicole Read.

“I don’t think staff were trying to censor him. I think staff were trying to be helpful.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gordy Robson. (Contributed)
The intersection at Harris Road and Lougheed Highway (Google)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows resident wonders why traffic signals not updated

A local man has contacted the city and road contractor with concerns to no avail

The BCJALL draft was held on Thursday evening.
Maple Ridge’s Malawsky picked first overall in BCJALL draft

Burrards midgets again dominate the Junior A midget draft

About 150 guests attended the 16th annual Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. (The News files)
Parker Kaumi, 6, and his mother, Lauren, baked cookies to raise money for the Canucks Autism Network. (Chris Kaumi/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge mother and son bake cookies for Canucks Autism Network

Raise $1,200 for the organization that offers activities and programs to children and youth with autism

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read