RCMP want council to approve a red zone, banning repeat criminals from entering an area covering most of downtown Maple Ridge.
The geographic boundaries would be from Brown Avenue to 50 metres south of Lougheed Highway, between 222nd to 226th streets.
The area includes city hall, public library and indoor pool, malls and restaurants, as well as homeless shelters.
People with criminal records would be barred based on police- or court-ordered conditions of release.
The concept already has approval from provincial and federal prosecutors, according to RCMP Insp. Bal Brach.
Mostly, he told council, the red zone would target drug dealers, as well as thieves with repeat drug possession charges.
Those banned could be arrested on site.
Police want to bring the red zone into force within a few weeks. They have already created a social chronic offender list to target repeat offenders.
Such a concept is already in use in Kamloops – in two areas – and Vernon.
Police admit, though, a red zone won’t solve everything.
It could just push crime outside its borders. A known drug dealer could make transactions just west of 222nd Street, as observed elsewhere with ‘no-go’ zones.
That’s because a red zone doesn’t address the root causes of crime, often addiction and mental health issues.
We just heard at the first Community Dialogue on Homelessness in Maple Ridge that responding to treating the outcomes of addiction and homelessness is a waste of money.
What we need to address is failures in the health care system to help those who are desperate and struggling.
As panelist Mike Pond said: “Until addiction is treated as a medical problem … we will not solve the homelessness problem.”
As much as we sympathize with downtown businesses, we can’t sweep aside undesirable behaviours and hope they just disappear.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News