News Views: Shining a light

With federal election looming, we'll see if Ottawa cares about homelessness

The Maple Ridge homelessness solutions task force features four teams, many members and a heavy emphasis on communication, coordination and cooperation.

Missing is a solution for the tent city on Cliff Avenue, where neighbours report the number of campers has grown to about 70.

No one is saying how they ended up there, all at once, after years of the homeless being roused from vacant lots, treed areas and dilapidated houses.

The city has yet to push them off Cliff Avenue.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read, who campaigned on a promise to end homelessness in the city, is keen to point her finger at the tent city while trumpeting the need for a national housing strategy.

She has said more than once that the federal and provincial governments need to help with funding to house the homeless.

She’s not wrong.

And having a spectacle such as the camp on Cliff Avenue seems like a logical way to draw attention to such a need.

Unfortunately, the taxpaying residents of the area have to cope with the troubles associated with the camp, such urinating on the street, fights and arguments late at  night, shopping carts running into parked cars.

Last week, one of the campers overdosed on drugs.

The “street people of Maple Ridge” have formed a committee and handed out a printed apology to neighbours, saying they don’t condone thefts or violence. They have also established a “security team,” which will report criminal behaviour to the appropriate authourities.

That’s all fine and well, but the camp is not a permanent solution; it is a tipping point.

More so, it is an example of failure – for those who, for various reasons, are unable to improve their own lot, and for those who are unable to help them.

Many have been hurt by this ineptitude, here and afar.

Solutions, while not simple, all inevitably seem tied to money, and a willingness to help.

The hands are out.

With a federal election just months away, we’ll see who cares.

– The News