Editor, The News:
Re: Forum on extending homeless shelter (The News, June 8).
We all recognize the fact that homelessness is a part of Canadian society and each city devises its own methods and specific plans that are applicable and acceptable to its community.
In Maple Ridge, the wheels for the homeless project appear to be designed larger in size than those designed for the community, which is resulting it a very uneasy and bumpy ride.
It appears that at the municipal level, some politicians are a lot more concerned about the well-being of homeless than they are for the well-being of our community, possibly because the solution to the homeless problem is related to their election campaign promises.
Other supporters who have direct links to the homeless project promote continuation of their funded activities, sheltered in the nearby downtown core.
Today we hear more about government planning for harm reduction, shelter location and safety of the homeless than we hear about the corresponding public frustration, disgust and deterioration in quality of life caused by the homeless around Maple Ridge.
This situation has created a wide gulf between the downtown neighborhood residents and businesses on one hand, and on the other hand those with direct or indirect interests in quickly establishing the homeless base in the downtown area to meet their project deadlines.
We also need to recognize a balanced approach between welfare of the homeless and the well-being of the community.
Well-established members of a community constitute the backbone and rather permanent segment of the society, whereas the homeless come and go as a transient segment with, essentially, no allegiance or feelings for the City of Maple Ridge.
Community interests and sentiments often take precedence over other matters, such as the convenience of the homeless and those supporting their cause.
The general consensus is, if the homeless can not be integrated within our society, the community does not have to suffer and their permanent shelter will have to be located somewhere they really belong, away from the proximity of our vulnerable city centre.
There comes a time when a community feels that enough is enough and this appears to be the case right now in Maple Ridge.
Provincial or the municipal government will never be able to force the Maple Ridge community to swallow the bitter pill of having a non-viable multi-million permanent shelter within the downtown area.
Any prolonged arrogant attitude on this issue is only likely to trigger more petitions, demonstrations, unrest and more ugly situations for the council.
In respect to the possibility of opening up our public parks for homeless camping, I feel that is not the right solution and it will pose a risk to your people and the children who play at the park grounds.
It will also be a nuisance to police as its asking too much of these people to pick up there camp each morning and re-assemble in the evening.
Please just buy a piece of land where they can have their tenting and provide them with portable washrooms and showers. That way they are kept to a contained area.