Nathan Sands and Open Door Church pastor Bradley Christianson-Barker stayed at tent city for three nights. Phil Melnychuk/ THE NEWS

Video: Maple Ridge ‘tent city’ quieter than provincial campground, pastor finds

Members of Open Door Church say Maple Ridge, and beyond, must to address homelessness.

After a few nights at the Anita Place Tent City and Bradley Christianson-Barker and Nathan Sands agree – the time spent there was quieter than many a night Golden Ears Provincial Park campground.

They didn’t see, for those few days at least, drug-fueled rages, fights, mayhem or chaos.

Christianson-Barker is pastor at the Open Door Church in Maple Ridge and Sands is one of the congregation. Both spent Saturday to Tuesday at the camp, hunkered down in their tents, in the mud beside the Haney Bypass in an attempt to show support to those staying there.

“It’s been a good few days,” said Christianson-Barker.

The exercise was a religious and political one and both agree that homelessness is a complex issue, one that’s multi-layered and has developed over time, and that there are no quick, easy answers.

“We want solutions also,” Christian-Barker said.

The tent camp isn’t acceptable, he agrees.

“Yet this what we have.”

The tent city, which opened in early May, continues to draw criticism online, but Christianson-Barker wants to get out the message that the camp is an issue that involves the entire community. Every resident there has his or her own story, and many just didn’t get a second or third or fourth chance to straighten out their lives, as others have. “Just like all of us.”

When critics say that feeding people in the camp, or allowing the camp to stand just enables people to continue an unhealthy lifestyle, Christianson-Barker says: “That sounds pretty messed up to me.”

If you believe that by ignoring people, the issue will go away – it won’t, he says.

The camp is this is their way of saying, that they deserve shelter just like every other member of the community.

Sands adds that every Canadian citizen “has the right to a home.”

Both say they were welcomed at the camp and treated like guests. They said they saw people sharing whatever they had, while the nights were quiet. If there was drug use, people were doing so inside their tents. They didn’t see any delirious addicts tripping out.

“We haven’t seen anything crazy,” Christianson-Barker said.

“I haven’t seen a single needle,” added Sands.

Religious convictions meld with political perspectives.

“The early church took people in and cared for one another. It was a true community. This is what the early church would like,” the pastor said.

He wants his small church, with its few resources, to do more and plans on returning to the tent city.

“These are the people that Jesus talked about,” Sands said.

Larger churches in Maple Ridge with land, money and power, should speak out as well, he added, and help where they can.

“To me, it’s all political and I don’t like it when churches become political.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Tuesday in Vancouver Supreme Court, two days were put aside, June 27 and 28, to hear the City of Maple Ridge’s application for a court order to remove the camp.

 

Just Posted

When should the Ottawa Senators leave UBC for Abbotsford Centre?

Sens have exhibition game in Abbotsford tonight, but will risk Highway 1 traffic this afternoon

Abbotsford police chief speaking to Liberal candidate after second ad appears featuring photo of officer

Jati Sidhu had said an ad with the same photo posted last Friday was ‘not appropriate’

Stolen iPhone leads Abbotsford Police to 260 marijuana plants

Search warrant at west Abbotsford home leads to seizure of plants

Who is running for MP in Abbotsford?

Major parties have lined up candidates to run for Parliament

Michael Nenn acclaimed as NDP candidate

Will seek a seat in the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding

VIDEO: ‘Thrones,’ ‘Fleabag’ top Emmys

Billy Porter makes history as first openly gay black man to win best drama-series acting Emmy

‘This is savage’: Strip club owner suspects arson in Williams Lake fire

Investigators on scene to determine cause of fire that destroyed at least two businesses

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Judge rules cops did not coerce statement from B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker

Defence wanted Vernon’s Curtis Sagmoen’s video interview with police deemed inadmissible

GRAPHIC: Tortured cat found with string around its neck in Kelowna alleyway

City crews have been contacted and are on the way to pick up the dead feline.

Firefighters may be needed for paramedic apartment access, experts say

Better coordination recommended in urban B.C. 9-1-1 calls

Three B.C. moms to launch CBD-infused water

Three friends say benefits may include anxiety relief, pain management

B.C. students empowered to ‘shift the vote’ this election

B.C. Federation of Students launches ‘Our Time is Now’ campaign

MEC and LUSH stores to close on Friday for global climate strikes

Retailers will be closed on Sept. 27 so that staff can march in demonstrations

Most Read