A well-known White Rock street person, whose presence in the community had divided residents and politicians in recent years, has died.
Ryan Ashe, 56, who was removed from the streets by authorities last fall, passed away at Surrey Hospice early Tuesday morning, according to his sister, Orphee Martin.
It is believed he was suffering from lung cancer. Martin said she had heard his health had declined the past several weeks.
According to officials from Good Shepherd Lodge, where Ashe had been living since late October, he was sent to Peace Arch Hospital less than a week ago, and then transferred to Surrey Hospice, where he passed away Tuesday, surrounded by good friends from the community who had continued to visit him right up to the end.
Ashe had been a familiar figure on White Rock’s uptown street corners for more than two decades, and had become the centre of a controversy last spring when the city told him he would be forced to move from his settlement at a bus stop at Johnston Road and Thrift Avenue.
While some urged authorities to remove him from the streets, others – including White Rock Coun. Helen Fathers, a family friend – voiced support for him, encouraging the city to allow him to stay.
In October, Ashe was hospitalized and his belongings removed from a ‘camp’ on Thrift Avenue.
Ashe told Peace Arch News in the past that he was living with the effects of a severe head injury he sustained in a car crash more than two decades ago.
Ashe’s family is contemplating a community memorial service. Details are yet to be determined.
– with files from Alex Browne