Lid put on homeless barbecue

Camp residents tell Social Housing group to cancel event after recent spat of violence and mob mentality.

An outreach worker checks in at the homeless camp on Cliff Avenue. A plan to have a BBQ at the camp has been quashed.

Social Housing Alliance BC has scratched its plans for a Saturday barbecue at the homeless camp on Cliff Avenue.

“It’s been cancelled,” said Ivan Drury with the alliance.

People living in the camp decided they didn’t want the barbecue and told the alliance Wednesday they didn’t want to proceed.

The Social Housing Alliance had planned the event to show support for the residents of camp and to draw attention to the issue of homelessness.

“The whole project was to try to support them in what was a pretty hostile environment in Maple Ridge.”

Drury said when residents read the hostile comments made on Facebook towards those in the camp, they didn’t want to have the barbecue.

Drury said he didn’t encounter that hostility on the street. “But on Facebook it got levelled out into a mob mentality.

“Facebook included threats against us if we proceeded with the barbecue.”

Some also accused organizers of trying to provoke violence by holding the event. But Drury said earlier it was just a show of support and wasn’t an attempt to bring in more people to increase the size of the camp. His group still wants to support the homeless.

Earlier, Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read asked the group not to hold the event and to work with the city’s homelessness group instead of creating a “media event.”

People in the camp already have a voice as solutions are sought to resolve the issue, she said in a release.

“The organizers of this event have not reached out to me, or anyone on our staff, to talk about the implications of this event.”

“The citizens of our community have demonstrated an abundance of compassion and patience, and I urge the organizers to call off the event and meet with our Maple Ridge Resilience Initiative Team to discover ways we can work together on real solutions,” Read said Wednesday.

The Resilience Initiative is the new name of Maple Ridge’s plan to end homelessness.

Read said city staff have been working with the people living on Cliff Avenue to end homelessness in Maple Ridge.

“The organizers say that they want to end, not hide, homelessness, which is exactly what we are working to do.”

“It is important that other groups don’t step in and speak on their behalf and change the dynamic. This will undermine their voice and their personal stories,” she added.

“You do not have a permit to hold an event in our city. I am asking you to please refrain from pursuing this event further at this time,” Read said on Facebook.

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