People on the Katzie First Nations reserve will be sleeping easier once the heavy-duty gates are shutting down access to the reserve in the evening.
Gates have now been installed at the two vehicle entrances to the Pitt Meadows reserve, one on South Bonson Road and Salish Road and the other beside the wharf on Bonson Road.
Total cost is about $10,000.
The gates are part of the Katzie’s strategy to make the reserve safer by kicking out trouble makers.
“We had to draw the line somewhere,” said band councillor Peter James Jr. “We’re really serious about taking the community back here.”
The gates will stay open for a while, but soon they’ll be closed at night, hours to be determined, while a private security guard and a band member will determine who gets on to the reserve. However, they’ll never be locked but instead will just have security posted there. A camera will also photograph the entrance.
“If you live here … we know who you are, so come on in.”
James said vehicles have been coming on to the reserve at all hours of the night for years.
“The cars come and go, Mercedes, BMW or some guy on a Harley Davidson, come in … and out in five minutes.”
It might take a while for people to get used to the gates, said Coleen Pierre.
“It’s probably going to be a challenge for some,” but the safety of the community comes first, she added.
Any band member will be able to enter and leave the reserve at any time. The security checks though will be focusing on the dozen or so people who’ve been banned from the reserve. And organizers know that bicycles can still get past the gates.
Emily-Ann Chick, who helped start the community patrols, said elders have said thanks for the patrols and the gates saying they’re sleeping better while the kids are saying they feel safe. “We’ve definitely been getting a lot of positive feedback, that’s for sure.”
The band is inviting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge councillors to their meetings on security. Recently, the band had a barbecue which drew some people from Osprey Village nearby in Pitt Meadows. Other reserves such as Kwantlen First Nation have restricted access.
Last month, the band started community safety patrols where groups would visit problem houses and tell people they’re not welcome. Those patrols have already improved the reserve, he said. On Aug. 31, six people were evicted from one house, which is about to be demolished.