After two years, Maple Ridge’s temporary shelter closes
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After two years, Maple Ridge’s temporary shelter closes

Thirty beds available at Salvation Army along with support of intensive care management team.

Fewer than 10 people were left at RainCity Housing’s temporary homeless shelter Wednesday, what was supposed to be the shelter’s final day.

And the plan remains to close the shelter by the end of the day, said Catharine Hume, with RainCity.

The 40-bed shelter opened in October 2015, initially for only six months, to give people in the Cliff Avenue homeless camp a place to go.

But the closure of the shelter, a former mattress store where people sleep on cots in a crowded dormitory setting, has been extended three times.

It was supposed to close March 31, as announced last February by the then local MLAs. Former Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton also announced that an intensive case management team run by Fraser Health professionals would help people access services and treatment.

Hume said about 25 residents remained at the shelter Tuesday night. Five of those have already gone to the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, which B.C. Housing has funded to provide another 30 spaces.

Others among the remaining 20 will go to detox or other shelters or have found housing. It’s possible some could go to Anita’s Place tent camp, set up a month ago, one block directly south.

“I don’t have numbers for that, but I know there are a few people who are definitely seeing that as an option,” Hume said.

Dominic Flanagan, with B.C. Housing, said the intensive case management team will continue to work with residents who move to the Salvation Army.

“The ICM team will be there every day,” Flanagan said.

B.C. Housing is also providing 40 rent subsidies to help people afford to move into suites and apartments.

Living at the Salvation Army will differ than the RainCity Housing shelter, which offers harm-reduction supplies such as needles and condoms. People couldn’t use drugs inside the shelter, but could use in the nearby courtyard or washroom.

“Access to harm-reduction supplies may be different,” said Hume.

RainCity also allowed people to stay inside all day, with a flexible curfew in the evenings, added by the MLAs at the February announcement.

Residents moving into the Salvation Army will be able to stay there 16 hours a day, Flanagan pointed out.

The closure of the temporary shelter coincided with a small protest outside the shelter by Ivan Dury and Tracy Scott, who organized the tent camp on St. Anne Avenue.

During the protest, Drury was served copies of the notice of the application for an injunction that the City of Maple Ridge is seeking Monday in Vancouver Supreme Court, so it can disband the tent camp.

He plans to be in court to fight that application.

Dury said the camp is stabilizing the homelessness situation by offering people a place to go, but that the city’s is trying to sabotage that.

“We’re keeping the camp clean and tidy despite efforts by the city to disorganize it.”

He blamed the city for pressuring the company that provided three porta potties yesterday to the site, only to have the company remove them today.

“We had toilets one for wonderful evening and now they’re gone again.”

The demonstration prompted a brief altercation between Drury and former city council candidate Grover Telford.

“You have to get the cooperation for the public,” said Telford.

“We, as citizens, don’t feel we’re being taken seriously.”

Local resident Craig Severn said the $15-million promised by B.C. Housing for a new supportive housing and shelter in Maple Ridge should be spent on a work program at Riverview Hospital.

“I think we’ve been far too lenient with them and somebody has to do something. Put them to work, give them a sense of self worth. That makes a big difference for everybody.”

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