Editor, The News:
Re: Protestors want tent city back (The News, April 15).
As I had thought, out of the 30-50 people who attended the rally, I recognized five from Maple Ridge.
The rest were brought out from out of town.
This was easy to see who wasn’t from here, because they didn’t have the facts about the situation we are currently in.
Not only that, over 10 people I talked to told me straight out that they were from Vancouver, and said it shouldn’t matter that if they are not from Maple Ridge. Yet, if they were, then they’d have at least the basic idea of what’s going on.
They said we were ‘haters of the poor.’ Yet I’m, personally, on disability and live from cheque to cheque, and can’t afford both my medication for brain cancer, or food and rent.
Luckily, I was able to get a portion of my meds covered, but I still pay almost $400 a month out of $900 I get from disability.
The protestors talked about how these people are on the street, yet I’ve been told that there are less than 10, and they refuse to stay at RainCity because of the open drug use.
The protestors say the homeless of Maple Ridge support and stand with them, yet when they left city hall to March to RainCity, the residents at RainCity locked the doors on them because they wanted nothing to do with them.
Undisturbed, they continued their walk, in the middle of the road, blocking all westbound traffic completely, to the Salvation Army. When they got there, the residents hid around the back, and staff came out to see what was happening. After five to 10 minutes of protesting, Salvation Army staff asked the police to get them off the property, because, again, they didn’t want anything to do with them.
From there, they marched down Lougheed, again blocking the two westbound lanes, leaving traffic crawling behind them.
Finally, they got to the Quality Inn. Throughout the whole March there was a van with a speaker set-up driving with them. Cops were called by several people, but did not ask them to move off the road. They spoke at the Quality Inn about what to do with the hotel now. The obvious answer would be to keep it as a hotel.
The protestors said it had already been sold to B.C. Housing, which is not true. They called it social housing, yet it was going to be supportive housing. They said that there is over 40 homeless people still on the street, which is again not true.
The protestors said the current homeless shelter is closing and that a new tent city should be allowed. They said the shelter is full, yet it has 30 people with 40 capacity, at one time holding 49 people.
They said that a shelter is the same as staying on the street, which is obviously not true.
They said that we were all bigots. When asked to explain, they said “because you want treatment before housing.”
I figured if that’s the government’s way of operating, I personally understand that policy, as a shelter is not considered housing, and to have them move in to a house before getting their mental health issues, or drug addiction at least under control, would then leave them with no reason to address either, except for their personal reasons.
The fact is we had an out of town association come and protest and issue that those involved clearly had no idea as to what they were protesting. They told us that the homeless were too scared of us to come out to the rally.
The citizens from Maple Ridge, all five of them, we’re respectful. But the out of town folk were controversial, and aggressive in speech and manner.
I felt that this rally only put a damper on the homeless case in this city.