The recent shooting of two doormen at the Haney Public House calls into question RCMP and federal law enforcement official claims that crime rates are on a downward trend.
It reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous quote: “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics.”
I am not suggesting that the RCMP would lie about crime rates, but I do question how the statistics are gathered and reported.
Even Maple Ridge Coun. Bob Masse was quoted last year as saying there has been a significant downturn in the social dynamic of the downtown area.
I think the good councilor was indicating that the crime rate in the downtown area is not declining.
There are still significant numbers of sex trade workers and their drug peddling pimps wandering our downtown streets in the wee hours of the morning. A casual observer might even conclude that there has been an increase in the number of sex trade workers, their dependent pimps and assorted other drug users.
Significant numbers of petty crimes go unreported because many victims feel the police are unable to do much to prevent or solve these crimes.
Because many of these incidents are not reported, they are not included in the compilation of crime statistics, leading some deluded folks into thinking the crime rate is declining.
It reminds me of how municipal hall, many years ago, responded to complaints about serious traffic problems on Fern Crescent. In short, this topic was discussed frequently, but, in the end, little or nothing was done.
Eventually, the number of complaints dwindled and council members thought they had solved a serious problem.
At that time, when I suggested this to a Fern Crescent resident, he responded that we had not solved anything. It was simply that, due to a lack of response, many residents ceased complaining.
Curiously enough, in the intervening years, not much more has been done and traffic problems continue to fester on Fern Crescent. To be sure, discussions have been held with provincial and regional authorities, but no real progress has been made. Typically, municipal council can show you lots of plans and give you great assurances that they are working assiduously on the problem, but I won’t believe them until they show us some blacktop.
Despite claims by the RCMP that crime is declining, few people living in the downtown area have noticed any improvement. The general vicinity of 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway continues to be a no-go zone at night for elderly neighbourhood residents.
And despite all the money municipal hall has spent on blacktop and fancy trees in the downtown area, the main beneficiary seems to be neighbourhood dogs, who use the trees to their best advantage.
Council members seem completely at a loss in how to solve downtown crime problems, as evidenced by the direction given over a year ago to staff to ‘go away’ and come back with answers.
If any answers have been forthcoming, they remain a secret.
Sadly, council members seem entirely bereft of ideas or approaches on how to improve livability for existing residents in the downtown area.
Fancy trees and landscaping look nice, but accomplish little for downtown livability except to improve the esthetics of the approach to the new casino. Much the same is true for the million-dollar bike path to nowhere, between Laity and 216 Streets on the Lougheed Highway.
With more than $20 million spent every year on policing, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are not getting good value for their money.
Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.