The province will fund housing and supports for homeless people in Maple Ridge.
The city is willing to rezone land to make that happen.
But nobody wants to take the next step.
The public wants answers. Residents want Anita Place Tent City cleared, and the city has resumed the process to attempt that, citing safety reasons.
But where would the people from the camp go? As we’ve seen before, nobody wants them close by. Because people don’t trust them.
Businesses near the camp and around downtown went to council on Tuesday, recounting stories of thefts and threats, not to mention discarded needles.
Mayor Nicole Read and council are sympathetic. But she’s been down this road before and has the scars to prove it.
Sites have been suggested, purchased and rejected. A homeless camp started and was cleared. A shelter opened and closed. Funding has been provided and more promised.
Yet another homeless camp remains in the centre of the city, while the weather is cooling and snow is forecast for December.
Addiction and mental health issues are prominent. There are opioid overdoses and deaths. Vulnerability assessments have been done, so some of the issues are understood.
This mayor and council did not create the problem of homelessness. And they didn’t allow it to happen here or invite it anymore than did any other Lower Mainland municipality where it exists, which is all of them.
But the mayor did campaign to fix the problem.
So let’s do that.
Everyone, stop pointing fingers.
Get together. Identify properties. A committee of citizens has already made recommendations, as have those at the homeless camp. Council has its own ideas. Share them with the province.
Together – the city, the province and Fraser Health – pick a date and invite the public to come and listen to what needs to happen here and why.
Each can answer questions from the public based on areas of expertise.
Work together. Stick together.
As the mayor has stated, this is a health care issue.
Let’s start treating it like one.
–Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News