Anita Place Tent City was evacuated under fire safety orders on March 1. (THE NEWS/files)

RCMP release crime stats for two Maple Ridge housing projects

Crime analysis shows most police calls for non-criminal issues

Police attended about one call per day at the Royal Crescent temporary modular housing facility in March, according to Ridge Meadows RCMP numbers obtained this week by The News.

When officers arrive, they’re often dealing with an array of issues, from missing people to causing a disturbance, to calls under the Mental Health Act, in addition to smaller numbers of criminal issues.

According to crime analysis, police responded to 33 files or calls for service at the facility in March. That’s an increase from 22 in February.

Since Royal Crescent opened on Oct. 12, and until this March 24, there have been a total of 126 calls for police at that location.

Of those, 10 were related to assaults, with seven involving uttering threats.

Six calls each pertained to breach of peace or mischief, while there were four calls for theft under $5,000 or “other.”

Causing a disturbance and missing persons calls – non-criminal matters – accounted for 52 of the total number of 126 calls.

The numbers include incidents outside the facility.

Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk said the Royal Crescent modular building is located within a geographic “hot spot” for crime in the downtown area, but the building itself isn’t termed as such.

A hot spot is a small geographic area that has a high concentration of Criminal Code offences in a period of time, Gresiuk explained.

She didn’t cite the exact boundaries of that area, although the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries is outside of it.

“The Royal Crescent … calls for service, are not disproportionately impacting the area’s crime rate,” Gresiuk added.

Last November, there were 25 calls for service to Royal Crescent, 21 in December, 17 in January and 22 in February.

RCMP analyzed the numbers at both Royal Crescent and Alouette Heights transition housing facility, both operated by Coast Mental Health, as part of an investigation into the larger area that’s considered a crime hot spot.

She said that Anita Place Tent City lies within the same area.

“That was really the nexus of our calls for service in that geographical area,” Gresiuk said.

Police did the analysis “because we know that we have a unique set of circumstances unfolding in Maple Ridge right now, so we want to be on top of what’s actually happening.”

Earlier this year, police released numbers related to Anita Place Tent City that stated since the tent city opened in May 2017, police have responded to 669 calls for service.

Those included 81 for weapons, 44 to assist with medical overdoses, 57 recovered stolen items and 82 arrests.

Those were the stats as of Feb. 22.

B.C. Housing said 25 people from Anita Place Tent City moved into the Royal Crescent temporary modular housing complex. Another 18 came from the Salvation Army shelter, and 10 more came from the streets, local bush areas, or were living in vehicles in and around Maple Ridge.

Susan Hancock, with Coast Mental Health, said that the number of calls for police service to Royal Crescent increased in March after Anita Place Tent City was closed March 1, following an evacuation order by the provincial fire commissioner.

“We’re seeing an increase in people [from tent city] coming to the site. A lot of their friends are now living at our facilities,” Hancock added.

Figures for the 46-unit Alouette Heights transitional housing building, which opened in 2012 on Brown Avenue, show there have been a total of 726 police files generated at the location in seven years, from August 2012 and March 2019.

The largest number of files – 215 calls – were under the Mental Health Act, while 87 were related to causing a disturbance and 86 involved unspecified assistance. There were 32 assault files, 32 breach of peace files and 29 uttering threats at Alouette Heights during that time period.

Retraction and clarification of crime stats

A story published in the Friday, April 5 edition of The News, headlined “Royal Crescent housing settling in,” included an incomplete and misleading statement about crime and calls for police service regarding the project.

The News wrote that police had not seen an increase in crime in the Royal Crescent neighbourhood. This is inaccurate.

RCMP Sgt. Brenda Gresiuk clarified this week that her quoted comments in regard to the facility not being a “crime hot spot,” referred to the actual building, rather than the neighbourhood. The housing project is in a crime hot spot geographic area.

According to police statistics obtained this week by The News, Ridge Meadows RCMP responded to more calls for service at the facility than the previous month, and have had a total of 126 such calls since the facility opened last fall.

The News apologizes for any confusion the previous article may have caused.

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