Maple Ridge mayor says addicts 'raping and pillaging' community
The mayor of Maple Ridge is under fire after accusing homeless people with addictions and social housing residents of "raping and pillaging" his community.
The inflammatory comments were made in a 34-minute video uploaded to Mike Morden's YouTube page, in which he's interviewed by public relations specialist Susan Einarrson from Kingman Communications.
Morden suggests Maple Ridge is home to nearly a thousand people being supported by the provincial government.
"They're all placed by BC Housing within our midst," said Morden. "Most of them are in addictions, they're in active addictions, and they've not been through programs to get better."
Without providing any data, the mayor estimates 80 percent of people supported by BC Housing are addicted to drugs – and claims they are contributing to a housing shortage for other vulnerable people in the community such as seniors and single-parent families.
"Clearly that's a byproduct when all your affordable housing stock is going to rental supplements in order to park people that shouldn't be in people's neighbourhoods, creating problems," said Morden. "I see us becoming, for some reason, a hot spot in the Lower Mainland, for people coming here to carry on doing drugs and basically raping and pillaging all of our community and businesses."
The mayor provided no data on the number of homeless, people with addictions, and those in supportive housing who are originally from Maple Ridge, or have lived there for a significant time, compared to people who arrived recently.
Morden also claims his city is carrying a heavier burden than other municipalities in the Lower Mainland when it comes to housing the homeless but that is not borne out in data provided by the province.
According to numbers provided by the housing ministry, Maple Ridge has 0.67 shelter beds and three units of homeless housing per 1,000 residents.
New Westminster and Vancouver have more shelter beds and homeless units per capita, while Langley, the Tri-Cities and Burnaby have fewer.
The numbers in Vancouver are significantly higher than in Maple Ridge, with 1.72 shelter beds and 11.68 homeless units per 1,000 people.
"It's very disappointing. We need to stick to the facts," said Housing Minister Selina Robinson in response to the mayor's comments. "We have a number of people who have been left homeless because of years of inaction and as a government. We're responding by providing not just housing but 24/7 supports for people to get their feet underneath them and create a life for themselves that works better for them."
The Anita Place encampment is at the centre of this debate.
Many people have been living there for close to two years, making them Maple Ridge residents and Morden's constituents.
"If they're not from here," he said. "They should go back to where they live."
The province plans to push ahead with a new modular housing complex to house tent city residents, despite objections from the mayor, and many other locals, who gathered 10,000 signatures last year from people opposing any new low-barrier housing at the Burnett Street location.