Sunday, May 28, 2006

Homeless join the construction boom

Take a walk along River Road opposite the Billy Miner Pub and step on to historical Haney Wharf for one of Maple Ridge's curio-cities.

A fleet of things that float - they defy description - are tied up or busy being built up by one the the Fraser River's nomadic tribes.

Visitors come daily to gape at this phenomenon. District of Maple Ridge officials, both staff and council, say their hands are tied and are very happy to have the new city growing at the foot of 224th Street. They are happy too to provide electricity and water free of charge to the new community. The new community was established around the the time of the previous year's pink salmon run and also around the time when the only official tenant of the Distirct, a log salvage operator, used to occupy the water front now occupied by the waterborne vagrants.

To date there have been no fatalities of any kind, but with summer on our doorstep this could change. Authorities say that the Vancouver police department and other agencies are so effecient in driving the homeless out of East Hastings ahead of the 2010 Winter Olympics 'clean up' operation that we in the valley can expect our homeless population to soar.

There have been reports that a prostitution ring and a drug retail operation is based at the waterfront - the ton of garbage found daily on the wharf and in the general area seems to confirm the presence of a 24 hour substance abuse fest. It would be interesting to do a dive near the new floating city to study the amount of shopping trolleys anchored to the bed of the river. No doubt divers would find more than shopping trolleys.

This reflects and way the Fraser Valley is maturing. With population comes so many other things, housing being just one. Maple Ridge, unique as ever, has solved the probelm by allowing the development of its own Riviera just west of the Port Haney Wharf. A charming corner of the Fraser. Who knows, one day we might see our own version of the Cannes Film festival in Maple Ridge with a red carpet running down to the wharf and celebrities sipping Kokanees and rye on the patio of the Billy Miner - yummy. Now that would be something to crow about.