Petitioners hold up signs along Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge on Monday.

Petitioners hold up signs along Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge on Monday.

Protesters picket proposed Maple Ridge shelter

City holding a public information meeting.

People against the housing complex proposed for Lougheed Highway took their concerns to the street Monday and got dozens of honks in support of their protest.

While Caroline Bickle held a sign reading ‘Sign the Petition, Mike Hayner held another one reading ‘Drugs and Daycares Do Not Mix.’

The City of Maple Ridge, earlier this month, agreed to buy the property at 21375 Lougheed Highway in partnership with B.C. Housing, which will pay for construction and operation of a housing complex that will offer a range of services to people dealing with homelessness, addiction or mental health.

But those holding the signs and collecting signatures for a petition opposing the building – so far with a couple thousand names – think it’s the wrong thing in the wrong place.

Instead, treatment centres should help those with such issues.

Hayner said he hasn’t heard one person say he or she likes the idea.

“And yet it still gets shoved down our throat,” he said.

“It’s wrong that we have to do this,” he said as traffic sped by and horns blared in support.

It was his first day on sign duty and said he’ll be back as often as time permits. “Anybody who’s going to be in that shelter, they’re not going to get the help.

“If things are this bad … when the word gets out, more will come into town,” added Hayner, who’s on the Protecting Maple Ridge Facebook group.

Adam Jonas and his family live near the location of the new housing complex and agrees that crime and addiction will happen with or without a housing complex.

“But why invite more into your community?”

Neighbouring businesses are also concerned.

Riekie Armstrong was holding a sign and said people should be sent to Riverview hospital so that every community doesn’t have to fight the same fight against a homeless shelter.

“We are not against poor, homeless people.”

The temporary homeless shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy. will remain open until March to give time for an interim housing complex to open, followed by a permanent building, both at the same site.

Bickle, who works at the Alouette Animal Hospital, next to the proposed site, was the first in line holding the sign and had been there for a few hours for the last four days.

She’s fed up, explaining her son was robbed in the downtown three weeks ago.

“But I’m tired of the crime. I think they need a treatment centre outside the city,” said Bickle.

Shuttle buses then could drive the residents into town for services.

“We need to stand up. Everybody’s fed up,” she added.

The city’s holding an information meeting for the public before the actual rezoning process begins.

The city could decide not to proceed with the rezoning and sell the property.

Mayor Nicole Read said, at some point, the community needs to move forward and that the provincial government should be putting out more information.

“We’re in this divisive space right now,” she added.

“And a lot of the divisiveness is resulting from an information gap.”

Unfortunately, Read said, the city is left to do the communicating on a provincial issue.

“There’s going to be an opportunity for residents to ask all their questions. We need to be patient.”


Maple Ridge News

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