The creek in Reg Franklin Park, beside Eric Langton elementary and the Queen Anne Apartments, was littered with cigarette packages, condom boxes and “syringes,” chip bags, coffee cups, pop bottles and pizza boxes.
A shopping cart, lawn chair, soccer ball and teddy bear were fixtures in the creek, at the base of Edge Street in downtown Maple Ridge.
This is where Haley Murgatroyd and her Grade 7 classmates conducted their science class on Friday, Sept. 14, to observe how living and non-living things interact.
Certainly, they got an education.
Haley, 12, has also seen drug dealers and drug users in the park, which she says used to be a nice place to take pets. Now, in her words, it’s “one of the most scariest places in Maple Ridge …”
She wants the District of Maple Ridge, council and RCMP to go see for themselves.
Parks staff were at the park on Wednesday, trimming back tall grass and overgrown branches and shrubs, while the kids at Eric Langton played outside at lunch. But it is down by the near barren creek, and in it, where all the garbage laid, and where a woman was seen smoking a cigarette next to a man who was doing up his pants. Two bikes stood at the crest of the berm above the creek, tires locked together, however briefly.
It took a little longer to clean up Reg Franklin Park – by Thursday it was spotless – but will take greater effort to keep it that way.
It’s no secret that the park is located in a troubled part of the downtown, and the ills of addiction and homelessness are not sole to that area.
But, as with the Broken Windows approach, the affects of them must not be allowed to linger.
And, clearly, they were with Reg Franklin Park.
It might require more time, more staff and more money to maintain a habitable condition in the park, even some help from the school and residents or other volunteers.
But that is what the district must do, for Haley and her school mates. They deserve better.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News