Loading articles...

Hundreds protest in dueling rallies over Maple Ridge modular housing

Last Updated Apr 14, 2019 at 9:37 pm PDT

Hundreds of people were at Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge. Most opposed to modular housing projects in the city, chanting “Our City, Our Choice." (Taran Parmar)

One rally supports modular housing, the other opposes it

This comes after Maple Ridge's mayor, Mike Morden, said the homeless were "raping and pillaging" the community

MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) – Dueling rallies in Maple Ridge Sunday, both centered around where people living in the city’s homeless camps should go.

Hundreds packed Memorial Park demanding the province rethink plans to expand modular housing in parts of the city. “Our city, our choice,” was their rallying cry.

Just a few blocks away, supporters and residents of the Anita Place Tent City held their own rally, calling for compassion and more modular housing units and low-income housing options in the city. “Homes not hate” was their chant of choice.

Supporters of the tent city wanted to raise awareness about hardships homeless people are facing — some living in the camp told their stories and talked about why they support modular homes.

RELATED: Frustrated neighbours relieved city is paying attention to Richmond homeless camp

Ivan Drury, an advocate for tenants, says the group wants “homes not hate” and community support when it comes to low-income housing options.

“The province announced recently plans to build an additional 53 units of modular housing in Maple Ridge,” he says. “And it’s provoked a mob response from anti-homeless in the community.”

Another, opposing rally was held by those who didn’t want the supportive housing in their neighbourhoods.

Neighbours speak out against housing project for homeless

Cassandra was just one of the hundreds of people who rallied at Memorial Peace park in Maple Ridge. She claims drug use and crime have surged in the last two years since the tent city popped up — adding that as a resident, it’s her right to be concerned.

“We need to face this problem, because it is only going to get worse. Maple Ridge is dying. We can’t just house the drug crisis, we have to treat it,” she says. “I hate my children seeing people use drugs. I hate the crime that goes along with addictions. I hate what it has done to my family, and I hate what it’s done to the city that I love so much.”

Garth spoke at the rally and says he’s struggled with addiction himself, but adds the province need to provide better resources for those who may be homeless.

“Without detox treatment, recovery, life skills classes, and finally reintegration into the job force, this really is merely a handout,” he says.

This comes after Maple Ridge’s mayor, Mike Morden, said the homeless were “raping and pillaging” the community in a video posted to YouTube earlier in April. That drew condemnation from some members of his own council, with calls for him to apologize.

RELATED: Mayor needs to apologize over ‘grossly inappropriate’ comments on homeless: city councillor

Supporters of Anita Place say Morden has displaced residents and turned the camp into a “prison” by putting up fencing and security.

– With files from Espe Currie, Lauren Boothby