Efforts being made to drain storm water at Anita Place Tent City. (THE NEWS/files)

B.C. Housing nixes Pitt Meadows spot for shelter

Public consultation to follow once site’s selected

B.C. Housing has said thanks, but no thanks to an offer by Ron Jones to provide an 11-acre site in Pitt Meadows for a homeless shelter and supportive housing complex.

Jones, and land owner and developer in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, had offered to lease out his property on the northwest corner of Lougheed Highway and Harris Road, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, as a way to solving the log jam surrounding homelessness in Maple Ridge.

He made the offer because the property wasn’t close to any other residences, while it was still on a major transportation route, and as a way of helping resolve the issue.

“While the Pitt Meadows site is not a viable option for the Maple Right situation, we are actively exploring a number of potential locations, but no firm site has been identified yet,” B.C. Housing said Friday.

The provincial government remains committed to addressing the tent city and homelessness in a way that works for the City of Maple Ridge, it added.

Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith said in November that a public meeting was to take place soon on a housing project for Maple Ridge, to provide a place for the people in Anita Place Tent City, located in the downtown.

B.C. Housing was looking at 20 such locations.

However, public consultations won’t take place until after a location for a modular housing project has been chosen.

“I don’t know if we’ve been notified of that,” said Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson.

He added that he couldn’t speak for council, “but we were pretty firm, we wanted to have a meeting before a site’s identified – and if they insist on plowing ahead, good luck to them.”

He doubts any decisions or meetings will take place before new year.

“It is essential that residents have an opportunity to learn and ask questions about how the modular housing program works,” said B.C. Housing., which is “optimistic” about working with the city to approve sites for both short-term and longer-term housing in Maple Ridge, including the modular housing program that more than five other communities across the province are participating in.

The agency has already approved $15 million for a supportive housing complex in Maple Ridge, but a location has yet to be found.

Two previous sites identified, one at 21700-block Lougheed Highway, the other at the Quality Inn, now the Econo Lodge, were rejected in 2016 because of public outcry.

Ivan Drury, with the Alliance Against Displacement, claims that B.C. Housing is proposing work-camp style trailers as a temporary housing for Maple Ridge, instead of the self-contained, modular apartments that are being built in Vancouver.

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