As quickly as the camp protesting B.C. Housing’s plan for modular homes on Royal Crescent went up – it went down.
The property at 22548 Royal Cres. was empty Wednesday morning after B.C. Housing said Tuesday that it was seeking a court order to clear the camp.
A handful of protesters moved on to the site last Thursday, hours after the old Mussallem house was hauled away to the Maple Ridge Cemetery, where it will serve as a caretaker’s house.
The camp was in objection to B.C. Housing developing the site for 55 temporary modular housing units without consulting the community or going through rezoning.
B.C. Housing wants to build the temporary facility by September, with the intent of housing the people currently in the Anita Place Tent City, which has been around for more than a year, just two blocks from the modular housing location.
About 10 or 12 people camped out over the weekend at the Royal Crescent site.
Kym Hansford had been out with the camp, but not staying there because she has a job and family.
“Being taxpayers, we pay for this land because it’s B.C. Housing,” she said. “We’re also paying for the park that Anita Place is on. They have been on there for a year. And now we’re here for a week and they have us out.”
Construction is expected to start soon, with occupancy mainly by residents of Anita Place Tent City by the fall. The project will be staffed 24/7 and operated by Coast Mental Health.
The protest threatened to delay homes for vulnerable people with an urgent need for housing and support to stabilize, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson said Tuesday.
“We have to get moving on site preparation and construction, to ensure we can move people indoors before next winter,” Robinson said.
She later thanked protesters for moving off the site voluntarily, saying there will be consultation when a permanent facility is considered for the site. The modular housing about to be built is expected to last up to three years.
“It’s clear that homelessness has a heavy impact on the entire community of Maple Ridge and we are glad to be moving ahead with these much-needed facilities once again,” Robinson said.
Hansford said she’s not sure where protesters will go now.
“We’re still going to fight it.”
But she said she couldn’t risk being arrested if police cleared the site under a court order.
“I can’t afford not to be able to work.”
She said that people opposed to the modular housing aren’t against people being housed or having a place to go or having food to eat. But the government should also be putting money in expanding drug treatment in the province.
“As long as they’re not clean, they’re essentially warehousing addicts to die.”
Dave Anderson and Mike Walkey, who both live nearby the modular site, are worried about the discarded needles, crime and damage that could accompany the housing project.