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Housing minister 'disappointed' with Maple Ridge Social Housing Plan

Last Updated Mar 13, 2019 at 7:24 am PDT

(Simon Druker, NEWS 1130 Photo)

B.C.'s housing minister says City of Maple Ridge brought forward a homeless housing proposal it 'knew was not workable'

Robinson 'disappointed' after Maple Ridge council unveils Social Housing Plan, says doesn't help Anita Place residents

MAPLE RIDGE (NEWS 1130) – The Social Housing Plan being touted by Maple Ridge City Council isn’t getting a complete stamp of approval from the provincial government.

B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the city’s proposal to provide more shelter to its homeless population doesn’t adequately address the problem.

“I’m disappointed in the outcome of the Maple Ridge City Council meeting tonight,” Robinson said in a statement Tuesday night. “The City brought forward a proposal that they knew was not workable, and which would not provide the housing needed to close down the Anita Place camp and bring people indoors.”

Anita Place homeless camp has come to symbolize that city’s struggles with this issue.

On Tuesday, city council unveiled its plan in response to a request by Robinson’s office.

It includes provisions for additional temporary modular housing units to be specifically allocated to those living at Anita Place, as well as a number of other provisions.

However, Robinson says the plan — which would, according to the city, see the camp come to an end — doesn’t cut it.

“City staff were told last week that the Royal Crescent site couldn’t accommodate any additional units due to the physical restrictions and slope of the site, and I reinforced that fact this afternoon when speaking with Mayor Morden,” she said. “I was clear with the Mayor last week, and again when we spoke [Tuesday], that inaction was not an option for the community of Maple Ridge, as this situation has been allowed to continue for too long.”

The Anita Place homeless camp has been in place since May of 2017.

Province moves ahead

Despite the preference to work with the city to solve the issue, Robinson says the province now needs to “move forward with building temporary supportive housing on an expedited basis,” all because the City of Maple Ridge “has not identified a workable solution.”

There are other points within council’s proposal that the province is applauding, such as senior and recovery housing elements, however, the minister adds “we cannot ask the people of Maple Ridge to wait any longer for the housing that is needed to enable us to close the camp down and bring its residents inside, into the supportive homes they need.”

The proposal also includes, among other elements, a request for B.C. Housing and Fraser Health to come up with a permanent supportive housing model.

“One of the first priorities of our Council was to launch the development of our ‘Community Safety Plan,'” Mayor Mike Morden said in a release, also from Tuesday evening. “The provision of housing and social service supports is an important element of this work. This was our motivation to reach out proactively to our local MLAs to set up ta face to face meeting with the Ministers in Victoria on February 25.”

“In laying out this Social Housing Plan, our Council remains committed to a partnership with the BC Government and their agencies to address the immediate challenges in our community and champion a new approach to the delivery of housing and social support services.”

Council’s vote comes more than a week after people living at Anita Place were forced to leave the camp, following concerns of fire hazards and three blazes in as many days.

An evacuation order that forced occupants out of the tent city was conditionally lifted this Monday.