A rally was held in Memorial Peace Park on Saturday. (THE NEWS/files)

Letter: Maple Ridge, ‘time for talk is long past’

Council represents ‘all of us’

Editor, The News:

Re: Rally against homeless housing in downtown Maple Ridge.

I have listened to Maple Ridge Coun. Kiersten Duncan about being the only member of the current council who supports the provincial government decision to provide more units of temporary modular housing in response to the situation which continues at the Anita Place homeless camp.

Our young councillor makes me feel proud to live here. I know that her views are supported by many residents.

I acknowledge the necessity of taking action to ensure safety as was done recently at Anita’s camp, and I appreciate that there are differing opinions about how to proceed. However, the fact is that the city has had several opportunities to zone for the housing that would provide for many camp residents over the last few years.

It may be regrettable that the province has had to proceed without local government sanction, but the time for action had come.

The first 53 units of temporary modular housing are providing effective services to those in dire need. The fact that these were not enough was evident at the beginning.

Now, as the time for talk is long past, more action is being taken, and I applaud that.

I so hope our city will be able to bring to fruition the plans it has for the other types of housing it correctly identifies as being required. Housing prices at the top end have eased, but the rental vacancy rate has not changed, and many people are perilously close to being homeless.

The provision of housing for all is a serious challenge of our time. It requires creative planning and courageous decision-making.

Our city council needs to implement solutions. The council terms are now four years, surely long enough to get a substantive project at least partly built.

In the meantime, we need to support the Salvation Army, B.C. Housing, and the community churches and non-profit organizations working to alleviate the complex issues associated with homelessness.

Linda King

Maple Ridge

Editor’s note: Linda King served six terms on Maple Ridge council.

Council represents ‘all of us’

Editor, The News:

Re: Rally against homeless housing in downtown Maple Ridge.

I’d like to start by saying thank you to the provincial government for stepping up on the Anita Camp situation.

It’s time someone took control of this file. The previous mayor and council were unable and unwilling to take any kind of decisive action and left a mess for the new mayor and council.

The latter responded by making the situation even worse than it originally was.

All along, there has been a very small and very loud group of people dead set against anything that isn’t exactly what they want. There have been protests and threats and more protests at every step of the way and, finally, the province has had enough and stepped in.

The majority of people I know here in Maple Ridge are caring and compassionate and deeply concerned about the welfare of those lesser beings who are homeless on our streets.

The majority want the mayor and council to work with the senior government to help with this problem.

I will certainly admit that the offer on the plate leaves much to be desired. But he current group on council has shown no expertise in dealing with this problem, so step out of the way.

Mayor and council don’t just represent the people who are screaming in your face, but all of us.

Barry Billas

Maple Ridge

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