For a young, relatively fit person, a 15 to 20 minute walking detour might seem like a minor inconvenience. For a senior with mobility issues, however, that detour might make the difference between them meeting their friends, or staying cooped up at home.
Chris Bossley, who ran for Maple Ridge city council in 2018, said the residents of two seniors complexes on Burnett Street have been incredibly inconvenienced since a pathway next to A&W, connecting the road and 228 Street, was fenced off on March 13.
“A number of folks who live at Earl Haig and Christopherson House use that pathway to go over to A&W, as well as ValleyFair Mall,” she said.
“The restaurant is a very popular spot for seniors, especially in the morning. They go over there for coffee and breakfast, and meet their friends.
“And ever since that fence went up, it’s just broken my heart.”
The empty lot, which is owned by AYC Chan Enterprises, has been a magnet for homeless people and drug users over the last few years, Bossley admits.
A representative from the City of Maple Ridge informed her there have been 22 bylaw infractions on the property directly related to homeless encampments, the associated accumulation of garbage, and discarded drug paraphernalia.
As such, the city representative noted the lot created an unsafe environment for seniors, residents, students and others wishing to travel down the pathway.
Bossley was told the owners had originally agreed to an easement to allow use by the public of the pedestrian/cycling pathway prior to the city receiving these various complaints.
But according to the land title, the property owner has rights over the easement, while the city has no ownership rights, and AYC Chan Enterprises are exercising their right to restrict access.
Bossley said she has no issue with the property being fenced off, but thinks the city could work with the property owner to come up with a relatively easy fix.
“The city could kindly ask the property owner if, instead of blocking ingress and egress from the pathway and from the opening in the fence directly behind the China Kitchen, to angle the fence so it starts on the north side of entrance to the pathway and ends at the west side of the opening behind the China Kitchen.
“The property, with the exception of a small corner would still be fenced off, but the location of the fence would allow passage between the pathway and the A&W restaurant lot.”
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