Follow-up on a fatal crash and a homeless camp

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On May 18 of this year we published a letter to Doug Bing, a member of the British Columbia Legislature, about a fatal crash on a provincial highway near our home in suburban Maple Ridge. The layout of the highway intersection where the crash took place had been unsafe for years.

In recent weeks, technicians have installed a low-tech improvement at the problem corner. This modest screen, pictured above, deters southbound drivers from making the last-minute lane switch that was putting all directions at risk. If the pylons get mowed down, they can be re-installed. Thanks to Mr. Bing for taking in interest in this issue.

[Three days after we posted this item, firefighters, police and ambulance arrived at the same intersection to attend to a crash involving a turning movement that was not mentioned in the letter to Mr. Bing. The seriousness of the injuries was not obvious, but one vehicle was likely a write-off. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia received reports on 64,000 intersection crashes in the Lower Mainland in 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available.]

On July 15, we reported on the status of a homeless camp located on a residential street near the top of the road shown above. The mayor of Maple Ridge, Nicole Read, had decided to seek housing for the 60-odd camp residents rather than simply chasing them away.

As of late October, the homeless camp is gone, at least for now, and the street has been narrowed with steel fencing.

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A big part of the story was a City Council decision to open a temporary shelter in an empty furniture store space 100 metres away. There were 60+ people in the camp, and there are now 40+ people in the temporary shelter.

On the day I took the above photo of the empty street, I was approached by a security guard who still patrols the area. She said transient people continue to hang out here, to the annoyance of the owners of a single small business corner. There were five or six people sitting on a concrete median barrier near where we spoke. The security guard said, softly, that one had just arrived, drawn by the rumour that Maple Ridge has plenty of shelter for the homeless.

The core of the City’s hope for improvement, judging from the “Maple Ridge Resilience Initiative” web page, is to study the integration of services related to mental health, substance abuse and housing.

“The goal is to produce a Social Services Delivery Research Report, which clearly outlines models and opportunities that are designed to strengthen and improve the service delivery and funding models for services in these areas. The focus is specifically related to researching and articulating a comprehensive overall structure of both the delivery of these services at the local community level as well as the senior government policy frameworks and funding models that support and inform the local structure. The City’s primary interest is to position both the City and service providers to be proactive and strategic in advocating for policy and funding model changes that will result in appropriate and sustainable funding models to support an improved, accessible, integrated and collaborative social service delivery model that addresses the needs of the vulnerable populations in the community. The report will recommend advocacy mechanisms and opportunities for the City in both the immediate and in the long-term. In addition the report will recommend metrics together with a mechanism to ensure ongoing monitoring that will result in a cycle of continuous improvement to meet changing and future needs of vulnerable populations.”

There’s much more, but I’ll refer you to page 39 of the June 1 Maple Ridge Council agenda.

 

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