It was fitting that Mayor Ernie Daykin sat in the cab of the excavator and ceremoniously delivered the first blow to flatten the most notorious housing complex in the history of Maple Ridge.
The rest of council joined neighbours on Fraser Street to watch what was a joyous occasion for south Haney.
For almost a decade, Northumberland Court was a haven for crime – drugs, weapons, rape, prostitution. If someone robbed a cab driver, police found the suspect at Northumberland, which police raided several times, and found firearms. The fire and bylaws departments conducted numerous safety inspections there. Municipal council, staff and lawyers fought to have former majority owner Jack Athwal clean the place up, get control of the tenants, or knock the place down.
It was the cumulative efforts of them all, combined with area residents that led to Wednesday’s partial demolition. The rest should come down next week.
Credit also goes to Ghalib Rawji, the Vancouver developer who bought Northumberland last year and promises to forge ahead with plans to build new housing on the property, giving new blood to the neighbourhood and relief to those who have endured one disturbance after another.
And don’t forget realtor Ron Antalek, who helped broker the deal.
All the problems in the area have not been resolved, nor will they disappear in the time it takes to strike down a wall with the long arm of an excavator.
But sometimes you have to tear things down to start anew, to right a wrong, so hope can he born.
South Haney, known for years as the ghetto, now has that – hope.
All those who had a part in making that happen deserve thanks.
The ghetto is gone.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News