Editor, The News:
Re: Tired of deteriorating downtown (The News, Sept. 12).
It would be so nice to have a simple solution to the modern urban problems found in downtown Maple Ridge.
Every few years someone proposes that the blame should be placed on the Caring Place. The reality is that the number of homeless in Maple Ridge has not changed significantly in 20 years – in the early ’90s the Friends in Need Food Bank had a ‘night owl’ project, in which volunteers took bags of food to people living on the street.
Although there was no homeless count, the estimates were 70-90 people at any given time were unhoused.
The solution to that might be to push our senior governments to develop solid affordable housing strategies to provide housing for all Canadians.
As indicated in the article, there are a few people who cause problems and this is usually related to drug use – so more treatment beds, especially for women, might help alleviate the problem.
Local agencies and the police see no growth in numbers, but perhaps as one neighbourhood reclaims its streets, prostitutes are forced to move to other locations. Is that the case here?
Mayor Ernie Daykin points out that, although accusations are often made that people flock here because of the great food at the Caring Place, there is no hard evidence to support it.
Unhoused people are mobile and certainly move from community to community, perhaps to escape violence or merely because they think there is a better place for them to find a hand up.
The Caring Place provides an important service to people struggling with a variety of challenges. To say that the Caring Place has wrecked downtown is both irresponsible and unfair.
A solution can only come when all levels of government and the whole community work together.
As to the garbage found behind thrift stores, despite what the mayor says, not all of it is large items, and much of it is dropped by people who cannot or will not take it to the transfer station.
As a minister of a church, I too was often greeted by bags of donations left at our doors. That is the work of irresponsible citizens.