Maple Ridge’s agreement to back away from its court action to clear the Anita Place Tent City is a “slap in the face” to taxpayers and residents, says Ahmed Yousef, who recently led a delegation to council on the topic.
Council is playing into the hands of a “small minority of have hijacked our community,” he said on Facebook.
” … our community has done enough and will not be turned into a pipeline for housing the addicted and homeless on behalf of the entire province,” he writes.
Instead, the provincial government should re-open Riverview Hospital to treat the mentally ill and the addicted, he added.
Yousef wants residents to write council and local MLAs on the issue and calls on people “to take to the streets, if necessary, to demonstrate and protest against this travesty.
“This is our last chance to save our beloved Maple Ridge from the occupiers and outsider protesters who have caused divisions and damage to our community.”
He argues that any housing project or shelter should have a curfew, stay limits, rules on conduct in the shelter, restorative justice and should only have a number of beds based on Maple Ridge’s population.
“We are happy to do our part, but we are not the repository for the homeless coming from all of western Canada,” he said.
Council made an agreement earlier this week with lawyers for the tent city to suspend an injunction to clear the camp. In return, B.C. Housing will ensure camp residents have fireproof materials, other fire safety issues will be addressed, and provide washrooms.
B.C. Housing has also started to look for a location to put about 50 units of modular, or temporary housing,in Maple Ridge and is planning a community meeting on the topic.
NDP supporter Will Hartman countered Yousef’s claims, saying that he has no facts to substantiate that Maple Ridge has become destination for homeless drug addicts.
“You claim to speak for the majority of Maple Ridge residents. Again, where is the evidence of that? Because you certainly do not speak for me and a lot of others that I know in this community,” Hartman said.
He agreed with Yousef on the need for restorative justice.
“But in order for there to be a true reconciliation, there also has to be an admission of wrongdoing on the part of those who have created an atmosphere of hate and fear in this community.”
Hartman also cited Yousef’s call for a non-partisan committee to ensure that any housing meets guidelines and minimizes the impact on the community.
“We already have mechanisms in place for that. They’re called B.C. Housing, the RCMP, and the provincial and local governments,” Hartman said.