I originally hosted this under "Gentrification in Metro Vancouver" but, considering the level of threats and violence involved, have decided this is a misclassification of extremely important problem.
In Maple Ridge, a temporary homeless shelter has been closed and shelter residents have been "hit with pipes, run off the roads with their bicycles. Smoke bombs thrown into the shelter to flush people out" with a vigilante group play a role in fostering this. The shelter manager fears for her safety. The Mayor went into hiding when informed of threats against her because of her support for the shelter. CBC's The Current podcast url below in addition to its written report provides more information on this horrific situation.
The podcast at the url at the url at the bottom of the post mentions Ivan Drury, an activist from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, who has helped organize a tent city in response to the closing the shelter but also faces intimidation himself. The city has now started legal action to seek an injunction to remove the tent city. Drury notes that their are 70 tent cities across BC because of the housing crisis now.
Why haven't the police arrested anyone when threats and physical intimidation against the shelter resident, the shelter manager and the mayor have become the new normal in Maple Ridge?
I think its time to start organizing and publicizing across the province and Canada against what is happening in Maple Ridge, because if the vigilante types get away with this, it will almost certainly spread elsewhere.
Last month, Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read went into hiding after the RCMP warned her there was a credible threat to her safety. They have not disclosed whether the threat is related to this issue, but the mayor has been the target of anger from Maple Ridge residents who take issue with her support of the homeless in her community.
The closing of a temporary homeless shelter in Maple Ridge, B.C., has heated up a contentious debate over how to address homelessness and addiction in the community. The shelter was set up in an old mattress store as a stop-gap measure while the municipal and provincial governments tried to come up with a longer term solution. The shelter manager says the conditions are not adequate.
'I don't know how people can turn their backs on the most vulnerable members of their own community.'- Ash, shelter manager
"You can see the walls don't go to the ceiling. There's not really anywhere to have deep conversation. There's nowhere to call your dad. Or to cry. Let your guard down," says Ash, the shelter's manager. Every day. It's awful. I wouldn't do it, I couldn't do it. It's terrible."
Ash — whose last name we have agreed to withhold because he fears for his safety — says that residents of the shelter have been attacked. "Cars have been keyed. People hit with pipes, run off the roads with their bicycles. Smoke bombs thrown into the shelter to flush people out," he says. I think it's been disgusting. I don't know how people can turn their backs on the most vulnerable members of their own community."
But other residents of Maple Ridge say they are fed up with the drug use they associate with shelters like these. Ramona Stimpfl's condominium is located between the homeless shelter and a tent city that sprang up last month in a nearby city park. "Every day we are cleaning up needles, drug packets," she points out.
Maple Ridge is a community of more than 75,000 people about an hour's drive east of Vancouver. The numbers of homeless is increasing across Metro Vancouver. A recent count showed a 30 per cent increase over the numbers in 2014. The problem is complicated by the high cost of housing, lack of addiction treatment spaces and treatment for the mentally ill, not to mention the opioid crisis that has gripped the region.
Eva Bardonnex is one of the people living in a tent city. She first found herself homeless in January 2015. When the house she was living in was sold, she had nowhere to go and ended up living at the river. She found housing after living at another tent city camp in Maple Ridge, but was kicked out two months ago after being accused of having too many visitors and not going to counselling. Bardonnex is homeless once again, but she says the tent city is better than living at the river.
"At the end of the day we don't go to the community and ask if we locate a cancer facility in their backyard. They need housing and health-care supports. As a human being, I've never backed away from these issues — may not be politically expedient. At the end of the day, I have to put my head on the pillow instead of being concerned about being re-elected. At the end of the day we don't go to the community and ask if we locate a cancer facility in their backyard. They need housing and health-care supports," says the Mayor Nicole Read.