The Salvation Army’s place will still care, it will just no longer be known by that name.
And it might move.
Starting in the new year, the building on Lougheed Highway at the Haney Bypass will be the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.
That explains better what the Salvation Army does, said director Darrell Pilgrim.
“We realize that a lot of people identify the Salvation Army as the Caring Place and this facility. But we also do lots of programs outside this facility. And so we just want to identify that and our ministries and also that we are supporting both cities in our region.”
The Salvation Army announced the name change at the yearly Dignity Breakfast Wednesday at the South Bonson Community Centre in Pitt Meadows.
Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton and Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker praised the Salvation Army. Bing said the provincial government supports the Salvation Army, while Dalton added that it gives great value.
Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said the Salvation Army was not the problem but part of the solution when it comes to housing the homeless, adding Pitt Meadows “lacks capacity but not compassion.”
The comments clash with those made in August by Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read, as she and council called for B.C. Housing to stop funding the Salvation Army’s 25-bed emergency shelter, at a cost of $1 million a year.
Read said then that residents had “lost faith” in the Salvation Army and that a different shelter model was needed.
On Wednesday, though, she said she supports the other programs the Salvation Army offers, not related to the emergency shelter.
“We’ve said all along when it comes to all of the other programs, we’re really grateful,” Read added.
“This issue of the shelter has nothing to do … with all of the good work the Salvation Army does throughout the country.”
But she continues to question the effectiveness of Salvation Army emergency shelter model, which she says is not solving the homeless problem.
“Nothing’s changed for me.”
Cutting the funding could make it easier for the city to use the same amount of provincial money for another shelter.
Read said city taxpayers are paying a lot of money dealing with homelessness, which she claims is the result of provincial downloading.
“When the city is on the ground every day, interfacing with all of the people who’ve been homeless in this community for a long time … and we connect 70 per cent … into housing [84 people were homeless, according to the 2014 Metro Vancouver count] and those people have interfaced with [the Salvation Army] shelter for many years – it is absolutely required of us to ask why has this not happened sooner.
“Why have the numbers got to the point they have?
“Why have our residents had to step in … and fund this?”
She said Maple Ridge council and staff have been dealing with the issue and are in the best position to comment on what’s needed.
“So with all due respect, it’s myself and council and staff who have been on the ground, every day, for months.”
Other people can support the programs, but the city can comment best on what’s working to reduce homelessness, she added.
B.C. Housing is reviewing the shelter model, she added.
Read said that targets have to be set for shelters so there’s a time limit for when people can be connected to housing. At some point, the funding that’s going to those shelters has to be questioned.
“We’re looking to models that are outside of B.C., which, in the end, save a lot of money in terms of health care.
“So if B.C. Housing or the MLAs are not prepared to listen to what Maple Ridge is saying … needs to be done … and we see a climb in numbers,” the city will speak up about that.
“I don’t treat this lightly, actually.”
Dealing with the homeless camp this summer has been tough on the city and its residents, she said.
“I’m not really in a position to back down on that one.”
Pilgrim said the Salvation Army is meeting B.C. Housing requirements for placing people into housing and said the rate at the Caring Place emergency shelter is 55 per cent.
“I don’t think there’s any way that they can stress that some of these people who are street-entrenched and heavily addicted actually met the intended outcome. So what are those numbers?” Read asked.
Asked if she felt supported by the MLAs, Read said she wants to have regular meetings with both of them and Liberal MP Dan Ruimy.
“I know that I was knee-deep in homelessness,” Read said.
But Maple Ridge needed the issue dealt with, she added.
“We have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on the street.”
The city’s connecting with the best models in other cities that are on top of the issue, she said.
Pilgrim said he appreciated the comments from both government MLAs.
“All along, both Doug Bing and Marc Dalton have shown their support to us and they continue to do that.
“We are very pleased with the support they show us and the advocacy they do for us at the provincial level.”
He was also encouraged by Becker’s comments.
“It’s very nice to know that support is still there.”
He didn’t know why the comments were made by Maple Ridge council about the Salvation Army.
“I believe that our stats speak for themselves and we have always met B.C. Housing stats or exceeded them.”
He said B.C. Housing requires a housing placement rate of 25 to 30 per cent, while in 2014, 55 per cent of those who stayed at the emergency shelter and who filed a case plan found housing.
The Salvation Army’s current contract B.C. Housing runs until March 2017. Pilgrim hasn’t heard from B.C. Housing with respect to Maple Ridge’s request to cut its funding.
“With the standards set by B.C. Housing, we believe we are doing a very good job and we’ve never heard differently from B.C. Housing.”
“We have every intention of still being here long into the future,” Pilgrim said.
“Certainly the support shown this morning and the support we’ve been given are extremely encouraging.”
Pilgrim said the Salvation Army, now in its 25th year in Maple Ridge, would like to move from its current location at the gateway to downtown, to a better building somewhere else nearby, if it could find a better building, location and money.
“We would like to move.”
But it would have to remain in Maple Ridge, because 80 per cent of the people the Salvation Army serves are from Maple Ridge and 20 per cent are from Pitt Meadows.