Maple Ridge Coun. Bob Masse is back at Monday morning meetings after missing three of the workshops over concerns about the city’s new homeless shelter, situated across from his chiropractic clinic downtown.
Masse had missed three Monday morning workshops. His explanation that he was worried about his business being affected by its new neighbour sparked “a fairly boisterous conversation” on social media and in the local press, he said.
He operates Focus Chiropractic, located at 22234 Selkirk Ave., across the street from the new homeless shelter, operated by Rain City Housing.
Masse told councillors on Monday morning that he watched the homeless camp on Cliff Avenue from March through September, was in the camp several times per week, and spoke with the businesses owners who were most effected by it on a regular basis.
“It was just a horrible situation,” he said.
He had related problems at his clinic during that time, and had security cameras installed. “They promptly came and stole the security cameras – twice,” he said.
He said he and his staff were forced to deal with discarded needles, feces and passed-out people when arriving for work some mornings – Mondays in particular.
He expected the shelter to make the situation worse.
“It was determined the shelter had to be about 25 feet from my office parking,” he said, noting that he was not part of the discussion about potential locations, because of his conflict.
“Nonetheless, I was really traumatized, undeniably really mad and admittedly really scared. And I was expecting an absolute horror show,” said Masse.
“I determined I needed to be at my office Monday mornings, and I expect most small business people who have worked to build a business can somewhat relate to that.”
His position was criticized by the public.
On Facebook, Phil Grey said: “Collecting his pay cheque from the city hall while grandstanding instead of going to council meetings is not what we voted for. Time to resign.”
And Kerry Verchere: “You will never get a vote from me again. You ran on a promise to serve the community. Hire someone to clean your shop on those Mondays and get to work doing what you promised to do. Your sense of entitlement disgusts me, how much are you being paid to be a council member?”
In a letter to the editor, R.J. Resek said: “Maybe they should think first on how they will prioritize their time and handle their own affairs before accepting these positions.”
Masse told council there have been some incidents involving shelter users. On Friday, staff dealt with a woman who was holding her jeans and shoes in one hand, and a needle full of drugs in the other. Later that day, and ambulance and other emergency responders were at the shelter.
“But those events have been unusual, and most of my fears have not been realized, and the shelter providers Rain City do a good – a great – job,” he said, noting the neighbourhood is actually cleaner.
“I’m happy to be back here,” said Masse at the council table.