(Collaborators for this column were Ken Durrer, Roy Hales, Dave MacKenzie, Andy Malloy and Michael Quigley.)
Some questions can perhaps be asked of us before we begin with regard to this and future columns: Who are we? What are we doing? And why?
We are members of a group of various individuals long-haired, short-haired, conformists, non-conformists, university students, dropouts, and members of the Maple Ridge community who are concerned about its future.
We are concerned about certain problems, the same problems as many people in the community, and in future columns will examine these problems from different viewpoints, thus appealing, we hope, to the interests of various members of the community.
We intend to discuss objectively these issues relevant to Maple Ridge, and in so doing, helping us to communicate with and understand each other better.
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Haney’s Memorial Park and Cenotaph has become what has been termed a “hippie-type hangout.” Members of the community have protested this gathering of young people and would like them removed from the area.
For example, members of the local Canadian Legion have complained about the disfiguring of the park and have blamed these “hippies” for this action. This so far is an unproven accusation, and, in fact, members of this group have actually kept the park clean, as mentioned recently in The Gazette.
Also, the “hippies” claim that harassment by some members of the local police is very discouraging. They find being searched for possession of drugs an invasion of their privacy.
In short, these “hip” people have been looked upon and labelled as bad and corrupt without a chance to defend themselves,
Objections to these “hippies” have come from many people in the community. Some hold the view that the Cenotaph was erected in memory of those men from this area who died in the two World Wars, and that this memorial should be respected. Others have expressed the view that these “hippies” are mere parasites who gather to display their lack of cleanliness and their absence of morals in the hope of gaining a measure of attention, however trivial it may be.
However, there is perhaps an important question to be considered: Why do these young people congregate at the Cenotaph, or, more correctly, on the adjacent park grounds? According to members of the group, there is no other suitable place to meet. At home, they are frustrated by a lack of communication with their parents; in restaurants, they aren’t allowed to sit and talk, they have to buy something; and if they sat on local sidewalks, obstructing people, they would be arrested. So they turn to the conveniently and centrally-located Cenotaph area where they can be more relaxed, and be themselves.
Here there is a somewhat ironic situation, in that this area, a “public park” should be denied access to this group of “hippies,” while other people and other groups of people use it freely. In future columns, we hope to explore further aspects of this situation, and discuss their relationship to broader issues in our community.
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