Political fallout after mayor's 'raping and pillaging' comments about homeless community
A Maple Ridge city councillor says Mayor Mike Morden's comments about people with drug addictions "raping and pillaging" the community were grossly inappropriate for an elected official.
In a 34-minute video posted to Morden's YouTube page last week, the mayor also suggested social housing residents are causing problems in the city.
"They're all placed by BC Housing within our midst," he says in the video. "Most of them are in addictions, they're in active addictions, and they've not been through programs to get better."
Coun. Kirsten Duncan said she was deeply concerned to learn the way the mayor was characterizing members of their community.
"I don't feel his words represent the city," Duncan said. "He's not speaking as an individual, he's speaking as a mayor, and he needs to act that way … I don't feel his comments were appropriate at all."
Duncan told CTV News she plans to speak with Morden about his YouTube video as soon as possible.
"I felt that was very disturbing that he said that," she said.
Morden could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Provincial official promote own videos
While Morden’s video is getting attention, B.C.’s housing minister is also hoping to get eyes on videos produced by the province at taxpayer expense.
The video shows a man who found himself homeless years ago and sleeping on a park bench. Rocco Morra says after moving into supportive housing, he is getting the help he needs. Morra lives in Maple Ridge.
Selina Robinson defended the use of public money to make the promotional video.
“We've been doing a number of videos,” the minister explained to reporters in Victoria, “making sure people understand what impact there is when we invest in people and how much better their lives are as a result of investments.”
Political fallout for the NDP
The Liberals meantime took the NDP government to task over what it sees as failures in its homelessness strategy. They pointed to Nanaimo RCMP numbers which show a 250 per cent spike in crime around one supportive housing location, and 66 per cent jump at another.
They also made public a letter to one of their MLAs in which Robinson denies any increase in crime. Scroll down or click here to view the full letter.
“Will the minister stop railroading the people of Maple Ridge and start providing real services to the people that need it?” asked Jane Thornthwaite, a North Vancouver MLA.
At a weekly press availability, the premier was asked about what was next for Maple Ridge. Mayor and council have opposed the province’s plan for modular housing. They say it lacks proper supports.
Despite the objections from elected officials and locals, B.C. is pushing forward with plans to build a new modular housing complex in Maple Ridge to house residents of the Anita Place tent city.
The premier says it’s time to move forward.
“In the case of Maple Ridge, there is the sense of make-believe that somehow there's a better solution on the horizon, we've been grappling with this for two years as the previous government did,” Horgan said.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shelley Moore and Ben Miljure