The closing of Anita Place Tent City in Maple Ridge means it’s time for the city to move forward and heal, the local MLA says.
On Friday, Bob D’Eith praised the City of Maple Ridge, council, staff, first responders and BC Housing for its work in the closing of the two-year-old camp at 223rd Street and St. Anne Avenue, calling the closure a watershed moment for the city.
“There were so many people involved in this that it’s worth saying that everybody from the city and the province… it’s a good day for the community and a good day for everybody,” D’Eith said.
“That’s a really important piece. We’re just getting started, really. There’s so much more need for housing in our city,” D’Eith said.
He said the province and the city are still trying to find a site for a permanent supportive housing complex.
Garibaldi Ridge and Royal Crescent supportive housing complexes are supposed to be only temporary and are to be removed once a permanent site has been found.
Maple Ridge council and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing have been quarreling over the model of housing provided with most of council opposed to low-barrier complexes such as Garibaldi Ridge.
“We’ve had our differences, but we always had the same goal in mind, which was to resolve the tent city,” D’Eith said.
The MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission was hopeful that Maple Ridge won’t see another homeless camp.
“For the most part, the main bulk of people who are experiencing homelessness have been housed.
“So I’m hopeful that we won’t have another tent city. That’s why I think today is such an important day, because we have a lot of people who needed to be housed, housed.”
But lots of work remains, he added.
The Alliance Against Displacement and Pivot Legal Society also spoke out Monday against the city’s actions.
Ivan Drury, with the Alliance, said that dismantling the camp “was an attempt to destroy the homeless community in Maple Ridge.”
He added that people are still on the street and that supportive housing is a temporary measure, “a band-aid on a festering wound.”
Anna Cooper, with Pivot Legal, said that the issue is of “fundamentally being against the people in your community who need you the most.”
Justin Tottenham, a former tent city resident who’s now in Garibaldi Ridge, said he sees many people in the complex who he doesn’t recognize from tent city.
Mayor Michael Morden said Tuesday the city has done more than its “regional per capita share,” in addressing the issue.
“We do not have enough appropriate resources to assist people with very complex problems, many of whom are in deep drug addiction and mental health problems,” Morden said by e-mail.
He added that council’s social safety plan “will facilitate treatment and long-term recovery for those in substance addiction; various housing forms to address needs for seniors, lower income and the disabled.”