Maple Ridge homeless camp neighbours complain

Crime, needles and feces plague the neighborhood

Neighbours of the Anita Place homeless camp are complaining about the impact on their neighbourhood.

Ramona Stimpfl is the strata president at Southridge Terrace, an apartment and commercial building on North Avenue, across the street from the Haney Public House.

The strata has spent some $10,000 on security measures since the camp formed, she said.

New gates have been installed to keep people away from resident’s patios, lights added and bushes have been cleared.

“We’ve been very proactive.”

Still, they constantly have to ask people to leave the property, and often get a belligerent response. The maintenance staff must deal with human feces, vomit and needles on a regular basis, she said, and has the photos to prove it.

“It’s every day,” Stimpfl said. “How would you like to walk outside your door every day and there’s feces?”

Kevin Dee, who bought a unit in the building six months ago, recently walked out the front door to find a man laying on the tile with drug paraphernalia scattered around him. He was not leaving or moving, and Dee said he was intimidated to walk past.

Later, he said, the same man was looking in car windows in front of the building.

Normally Dee tells people to leave doorways and stairwells around the building, but said they have been getting more aggressive.

Stimpfl works within walking distance of her home, but after she was harassed by three men, who she said asked for, then demanded money from her, she now drives.

Stimpfl used to work with Robert Mitchell, who prepared food for the homeless and serverd it in front of his business in downtown Maple Ridge.

“He was an amazing man, and I got to know everyone,” she said. “They were respectful. Some were addicts and most were homeless. Some got into care and are clean today, and some died, unfortunately,” she said.

“Now there are people that I haven’t seen before,” she said. “They are very aggressive.”

At Tuesday’s council meeting, several people complained about the camp during question period, and the lack of a police response to drug use, attempted break-ins and other crimes.

Jody Johnson was in tears at the public podium. She related her frustrations trying to recover a stolen bike, and having people enter her property, and finding pry marks on her door.

Kathy Pring said she has dealt with disturbances, “mental illness issues” and even naked people coming into her business.

Mark Lancaster owns an automotive shop nearby, and asked if the city could provide 24-hour policing until the camp is moved.

Acting Mayor Tyler Shymkiw said council has approved the hiring of four new RCMP officers and increased security.

“We’re doing everything we can, and I think we’re just as frustrated as you are during this process,” he said to Johnson. “And we’ll continue to try to do better for you, because it’s not acceptable that you don’t feel safe in your own home.”

Stephen Milner, who has been an advocate for the residents of Anita Place, said there have been needles and feces in the city before the homeless camp started. He said the campers have asked for a portable toilet.

“The city has refused that basic service.”

Maple Ridge News