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LETTER: Litter in Maple Ridge ravine points to bigger issues in homelessness debate

Municipality needs to think outside the box to reduce impacts of homelessness
There are pieces of furniture along with clothes and other discarded items near a local homeless camp. A local resident offers suggestions that would help people who are homeless and the broader community. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Dear Editor,

Re: [Maple Ridge residents have problems with homeless camping area,, April 1].

This is a concern to all parties involved, the residents, the homeless who camp there, and the homeless community in general, and there needs to be cooperation between the homeless community and the city of Maple Ridge to resolve it.

I spent time today speaking with Maple Ridge Street Outreach Society, many who are homeless and asked how this could be resolved. I was not surprised to hear that three to five other homeless folks have volunteered to gather up the garbage and clothing into garbage bags, and drug paraphernalia that is put into empty water bottles and taken to proper disposal sites.

Their concern is that the large garbage bins/dumpsters have been removed, and there is nowhere to put the collected garbage. They suggest that the city locate the large garbage bins/dumpsters near the homeless camps where the garbage can be disposed.

The reason clothes are being scattered is that the homeless have no where to store their clothing, to wash it or repair it so donated clothing does not have a long life. If a laundromat, preferably with the city’s support, could donate specific times for the homeless to clean their clothes (as is done in New Westminster), there would be fewer clothes garbaged, donated clothes would last longer, and the homeless would have a greater positive sense of self.

There are solutions but the city of Maple Ridge needs to work directly with the homeless and think “outside the box.”

They have many suggestions to make positive change.

Debbie Picco, Pitt Meadows


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