The District of Maple Ridge has asked a non-profit group not to host free dinners for the homeless on municipal property anymore.
The CEED Centre Society owns a historic building on land it leases from the district in a beleaguered part of Port Haney. The society has been hosting the dinners, along with volunteers from St. George’s Anglican Church, on Saturday nights since 2010, after the founder of the street ministry passed away.
Robert Mitchell started handing out sandwiches on the street to those in need in 2004. That eventually turned into barbecues in front of his business on 223rd Street.
Tyler Ducharme, a Port Haney resident and former council candidate, has publicly complained about the dinners at the CEED Centre, that those who attend are responsible for crime and nuisance behaviour in the area – noise and needles.
CEED Centre manager Christian Cowley, also a former council candidate, has denied that, pointing instead to a drug house that police have raided three times in the past year.
That rental property is managed by Al Hogarth, a realtor and member of Maple Ridge council. You’d think if anybody could help resolve the situation in Port Haney, it would be him – for starters, by doing a better job vetting his tenants.
The district has a heritage agreement to renovate the house, as part of a planned condo complex. But is it really worth saving? It is worth the headaches and expenses until that day comes?
If it is, spend some money and shut it down, buy the insurance and board it up.
Get rid of the trouble makers.
Instead, the district decides to displace the community dinners – to get in the way of people doing good, serving hot food and drink while providing a warm, dry place and some companionship to those in need.
The district needs to rethink and reverse this decision, and get to work resolving the issues plaguing Port Haney. They existed before the community dinners, which is why Robert Mitchell started them.
They are part of the solution, not the problem.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News