Maple Ridge – It has been a busy Tuesday for Against Displacement, the homeless advocates in Maple Ridge.
Early Tuesday morning, nine homeless and low-income drug users and activists staged a sit-in at Fraser Health Authority’s corporate office in Surrey (400-13450 102 Ave), demanding a meeting to set up an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) in Maple Ridge.
Around lunch time, the group Against Displacement, took to social media, announcing that Fraser Health agreed to start an emergency OPS and permanent supervised injection site in Maple Ridge, and will release a public statement to that effect later in the day.
Last week, the same group started an unsanctioned OPS in Maple Ridge on provincially-owned land. The Ridge Meadows OPS served 3 drug users before being locked within a police exclusion zone surrounded by RCMP cars and crime scene tape. The Ridge Meadows OPS was an immediate replacement for the community-controlled and unsanctioned OPS that the City of Maple Ridge closed down at Anita Place tent city, which operated for nearly two years and saved hundreds of lives.
The Province had shut down the Ridge Meadows OPS despite a report released the same day by the BC Centre for Disease Control saying that more than 3,000 lives have been saved by overdose prevention sites since the Province declared a health emergency in 2016. The Ministerial Order that declared the overdose crisis an emergency opened the legal gates for communities to open Overdose Prevention Sites throughout BC.
The BC Housing decision to close the Ridge Meadows OPS with police action suggests that the BC NDP is more concerned about the opinions of anti-drug user bigots in Maple Ridge than the lives of drug users.