Bert Woldring is on a hunger strike to improve the lot of poor people.

Bert Woldring is on a hunger strike to improve the lot of poor people.

Going hungry to help Maple Ridge’s homeless

Bert Woldring on liquid diet, waiting for word from government

Bert Woldring is feeling the effects of his protest to improve conditions for the poor and the homeless. The 62-year-old hasn’t eaten solid food since July 12 as part of a one-man campaign to find homes for the people at the Anita Place Tent City and anyone else who is struggling in a housing market where prices are high and supply is low.

Woldring is a long-time resident of Maple Ridge, although he currently lives in Victoria where he was provided a room when the tent city at the Victoria court house was disbanded.

“I came here because I have some concerns. I want to see what they (tent city organizers) have done and I’m quite impressed.”

Woldring spent a week recently at the tent city on St. Anne Avenue, but had his tent torn down three times when he was away from the camp. He doesn’t know who did that, or why. He added that the camp is mostly peaceful, though he says there needs to be more cohesiveness.

Woldring primarly wants affordable housing – real homes, he says, “not supportive warehousing” provided to those at the camp, and others, as well as ongoing support for the disadvantaged.

Some in tent city are also working and need a better place to live.

“People get up and go to work every day. Many are on the verge of losing their jobs,” he said.

“Why do we make it so difficult… and they struggle and die.”

He plans on continuing his liquid diet “as long as it takes,” until he knows the provincial government is serious about helping the homeless.

“I don’t want to die, I can tell you that.”

The City of Maple Ridge is doing its part, as well as the federal government. The city “has done more than the provincial government has done, certainly.”

Woldring used to be a cabinet maker and also owned his own company, but is on long-term disability after injuring his arm in an accident at home when his arm went through a plate glass window. For now, while he’s in Maple Ridge, he’s been sleeping in the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park.

Last year, Maple Ridge passed a park camping bylaw allowing people to camp in certain city parks between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m., however, Memorial Peace Park is excluded from the list of parks where people can camp.