Editor, The News:
Much criticism has been directed at me and others who question the current location of the Caring Place and the presence in our neighbourhood of druggies, prostitutes, homeless people and major and minor thieves.
I have been accused of overstating some of the issues and I have also been accused of using very harsh terms to describe some of the denizens of our street corners, back alleys, our lawns and stairwells.
Over the past two or three years, I have tried to discuss these issues with public officials, including the mayor and others. Their collective response has amounted to little more than a big yawn; or downplaying the seriousness of the problems.
Only when I used an abrasive approach has there been any response.
Well, dear critics, now that the problems have been laid bare before you, what do you suppose should be done to restore our neighbourhood to an acceptable level of livability along the lines of that which you might tolerate in your own yuppie backyards?
In fact, what in hell have any of you bleeding hearts ever done to address the situation?
Maple Ridge municipal council has a social planning committee, which you might expect to deal with these matters, but they do little more than sit around, wringing their hands and more or less endorsing the current socially catastrophic mess that eats away at our downtown area like a bad virus.
Neither I, nor anyone I have spoken to, wants to put the Caring Place out of business, but we expect the place to operate in the same manner in which it originally ran when it set up shop in its current location.
It began as a family/neighbourhood oriented place, but has deteriorated to its current unacceptable status.
The only time in recent memory that city hall was proactive in dealing with the totally undesirable element which now pervades our downtown area is when Gord Robson sat in the mayor’s chair. Since that time, the bleeding hearts and wringing hands society have taken over and we are left with the results.
The current council referred the matter to parks and recreation bureaucrats to study and come back with recommendations, as though this was some kind of a playground matter.
The current problems involve complex social and medical issues and I seriously doubt any of the current municipal bureaucrats are qualified to deal with them.
What is needed is a comprehensive approach involving neighbourhood residents, the business community, senior levels of government and properly qualified social planners.
And please don’t tell me that the downtown area and our neighbourhood is the best location for these people and problems they generate.
Should my great-grandchildren have to witness all this crap when they visit me?
Do you want them in your neighbourhood? I’m sure the answer is no.
You can offer your criticism because most of you don’t live anywhere near the problem and you go home at night and leave the problems to us. Thanks a lot.
Until you have first-hand witnessed prostitutes and drug pedlars openly carrying on their trade on your neighbourhood sidewalks, or have found them defecating in your front yard and back porches, or find the detritus from their activities on your property, don’t criticize me for defending my neighbourhood’s safety and sanctity.