Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith notes that supportive housing complex on Burnett Street is temporary. (Contributed)

Liberal pamphlet criticizes NDP over Maple Ridge housing plan

Mail-out says city deserves better on homelessness

The B.C. Liberal party is wading into the homelessness debate in Maple Ridge with a colourful pamphlet criticizing the housing ministry’s supportive housing projects.

The leaflet, titled “Maple Ridge Deserves Better,” says that the NDP government is failing Maple Ridge on homelessness and addiction and that its plan on homelessness “will warehouse vulnerable people without the necessary health services.” The leaflet also says the province is “steamrolling over Maple Ridge’s wishes.”

Spencer Sproule, chief of staff for B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, said the informational leaflets are being mailed out this week.

He added that local NDP MLAs Lisa Beare and Bob D’Eith “won’t dare challenge [premier] John Horgan and speak up for Maple Ridge,” but said that Wilkinson will.

The pamphlet isn’t connected to recall campaigns being organized against D’Eith and Beare, Sproule added.

The Liberals want the government to institute the same type of facility opened in Victoria to house those who had been in the courthouse tent camp. That facility has four mental health workers available 24 hours a day, a full-time, on-site manager, a community outreach worker and two home support workers.

“It’s on-site health treatment and recovery as opposed to the modular housing in Maple Ridge. I think the main point is the NDP have essentially put people in boxes and walked away,” Sproule said.

However, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in March that the Burnett Street facility will have 24-hour supports, while Fraser Health will provide clinical support services “on an as-needed basis.” Counselling, life skills and employment services will also be offered.

D’Eith (Maple Ridge-Mission) reiterated that the supportive housing complex on Burnett Street is temporary only, because that site is slated for a permanent, affordable senior citizens residence.

He wants to work with the city to get zoning in place for that senior citizen’s residence so that construction can start once the supportive housing facility relocates.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson has already agreed to work with the city to develop a “made-in-Maple Ridge” operating model for supportive housing, he added.

D’Eith said cities around Metro Vancouver are welcoming supportive housing and said that instead of the Liberals coming up with solutions, “what they’re doing is they’re trying to play on fear and division that they helped create.”

He said it was disappointing to see partisan politics involved with regard to “our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced in March that it will put 51 temporary supportive modular homes on property the government owns at 11749 Burnett St., to clear Anita Place Tent City, without seeking the city’s OK. The government did the same thing last October when it constructed the 53-unit temporary modular homes complex on Royal Crescent.

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