Maple Ridge leaders fail to address overdose crisis – Maple Ridge News

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Mr. Editor,

The Department of Social Development and Poverty Reduction recently announced a provincial initiative to give local governments the ability to apply for grants for poverty reduction planning and action to help develop local strategies and solutions to fight poverty. Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Nicholas Simons said, “Local governments are in the best position to know what their communities need so that together we can continue to support those who need it. most needed.

Local governments may be in the best position to “know what their communities need”, but some local governments, including our mayor and council in Maple Ridge, stubbornly refuse to “support those who need it most. “.

In my opinion, this provincial policy is failing as people who use drugs in our communities continue to die in record numbers from the supply of toxic illicit drugs.

And the province knows it.

The city’s lack of cooperation in supporting our most vulnerable residents has required provincial intervention no less than three times, including the development of temporary modular housing at Royal Crescent, temporary modular housing on Burnett Street (Garibaldi Ridge) and the 52 purpose-built permanent support house units to “replace the aging temporary units at Royal Crescent which are at the end of their life.”

Is there no way for the province to intervene to open overdose prevention sites in municipalities that refuse to do so?

A study conducted by UBC recently determined that “[a]t the 2016 census [life expectancy in Metro Vancouver] was 86.6 years for women and 82.5 years for men. However, some areas such as the Downtown Eastside and Haney in Maple Ridge had a life expectancy of less than 75 years for both women and men.

I can’t help but wonder if our lower life expectancy – comparable to that of the Downtown Eastside – is due to the significant number of overdose deaths our community has experienced since a public health emergency was declared in 2016 due to the significant increase in opioids. overdose deaths in British Columbia?

How long will we have to wait for our mayor and council to work with the province to support the people in our community who need it most? For many, it will be too late.

Christine Bossley, Maple Ridge

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• READ MORE: Maple Ridge, fourth highest in province for overdose calls

• READ MORE: Lower life expectancy in the local neighborhood

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