A new candidate for Maple Ridge council has a long list of issues on which he’d like to work, if he gets elected in the Oct. 20 civic election.
Chris O’Brian, a mental health and addiction support worker in Surrey, wants to “make some positive changes,” one of which he says would be to shift the model of housing from a Housing First approach to a recovery-based approach to helping people who don’t have homes.
Recovery based housing helps residents obtain drug treatment and to rebuild their lives and relationships instead of just focusing on harm reduction.
Recovery entails focusing on the biological, pyschological, social and spiritual factors in addiction and tries to improve people’s lives, while addressing behavioural and personal relationships, according to the recently released report: Recovery in B.C.: The Path Forward, from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.
Brian said he wants to “provide more adequate support … making treatment and recovery a more integral part of the housing program and lower the overall rate of homelessness and addiction.”
That’s just the top of the list for the Maple Ridge resident of a dozen years. He also wants to preserve the Agricultural Land Reserve, have better street lighting and expand the network of bike lanes in Maple Ridge, and advocate for the B-Line bus route which starts running between Haney Place Mall and Coquitlam Central SkyTrain station in September 2019.
He also wants to help the effort to restore the roof of the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park and keep council accountable and transparent.
“The other thing that I want to do is look at proposing a property tax increase of zero per cent for three years,” and then re-evaluate the budget.
Council has considered that in the past and ask staff to draw up scenarios that would illustrate the effects of a such a freeze.
O’Brian says his background gives him a good perspective and is also involved with helping move people in Surrey to supportive and modular housing.
“I kind of see what they’re doing here, what they might be doing right or what they might be doing wrong and try to get it right for Maple Ridge.”
He currently volunteers for the Haney Farmer’s Market and the Maple Ridge Alliance Church, and plans to help out other groups later.