Sidewinder: Skeptical of zoned-out tactics in Maple Ridge

Banning the bad guys in one place will just push them somewhere else

I mean no disrespect for the Ridge Meadows RCMP proposal to create a red zone because I know our police department is trying to cope with a seemingly impossible situation, but I remain skeptical of this scheme’s chances of ever achieving much success.

The red zone now joins a multitude of other zones in Maple Ridge. We have school zones, speed zones, residential, industrial and commercial land use zones, bus and taxi zones, no parking zones, hospital zones, playground zones, Rainbow zones, and, last, but not least, we have a twilight zone, otherwise known as city hall.

I think I’m zoned out.

The red zone proposal to ban serial Criminal Code offenders from an area that stretches from 50 metres south of the Lougheed Highway to Brown Avenue, north of Dewdney Trunk Road, and from 222nd Street to 226th Street.

How this edict applies to anyone already residing in the forbidden area is unclear.

When the red zone was first announced, it immediately reminded me of the hilarious scene from the movie, Airplane, where drivers were informed via a public address system announcement that parking was not allowed in the red zone but was allowed in the white zone.

That order was immediately contradicted by another announcement stating that parking was allowed in the red zone but not in the white zone, and so it went.

It has already been pointed out that preventing the bad guys from entering the red zone will likely result in merely moving them into the neighbourhoods surrounding the red zone.

This will provide even less improvement to our neighbourhood than moving the tent city homeless inhabitants to the current hopeless shelter across from the Haney Hotel. That initiative simply moved the problem a couple of hundred feet closer to our apartment and neighbourhood.

When enforced, the red zone provisions will simply move offending bad guys across the street from our apartment to other neighbourhoods.

I’m sorry if I sound overly cynical about the issue but all of the current initiatives set up to deal with crime, drugs, mental illness and the myriad of other problems which accompany urban decay have proven less than successful.

We have in our midst a full-blown public health crisis and all city hall can do is drop back to the good old days and sit idly by wringing their hands and moaning. The addicts, the police, the other emergency service personnel and residents deserve more.

There appears to be a critical breakdown in communications between city hall and our local MLAs, the two people who could be working to the betterment of everyone involved.

Mayor Nicole Read’s recent announcement that the city was dumping the whole issue of the proposed new Lougheed Highway shelter into the laps of our MLAs came as a shock to the MLAs, at least one of whom learned of the mayor’s announcement from a third party.

Mayor Read didn’t create our current homeless crisis. It existed before she was elected but she campaigned substantially on promises to to solve the problem and has met with a critical shortage of success.

The current lack of communication between city hall and the provincial government is creating another firestorm of opposition to any homeless shelter, low barrier, zero tolerance or any other method of operation.

The next civic election is two years away but former members of council and at least one former mayor appear to already be banding together to run to defeat Mayor Read and some councillors.

Once again the addicts, alcoholics and mentally ill have become pawns in a sorry political mess.

We all deserve better.

Sandy Macdougall is a former journalist and city councillor.








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