The MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission understands Mayor Nicole Read’s concerns that he and his colleague may not like the location of the proposed $15-million shelter and housing complex proposed for 21375 Lougheed Hwy.
But Marc Dalton won’t say if he rejects or supports it and doesn’t know yet how he and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing will be involved in the public consultation process.
The mayor, last week, asked that the MLAs take over the consultation process after citing Premier Christy Clark’s statement that the MLAs will have the final say on where or if a shelter is built in Maple Ridge.
“I would say I have concerns about the site, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not manageable,” Dalton said.
He’s aware that residents have concerns about the site, but added that people will be worried about any location proposed for a shelter. “There is not going to be a perfect solution. It’s a difficult situation, no matter what.”
He added that the MLAs haven’t decided yet what kind of consultation, if any, will take place.
“There’s going to be on going engagement,” Dalton said.
He defended his and Bing’s role in opposing the Quality Inn earlier this year as the location for a shelter or supportive housing.
B.C. Housing bailed on that location this spring after strong outcry from the public.
Dalton said that MLAs normally don’t get involved in such issues and that he had no opinion on the Quality Inn as a location for a shelter, until people reacted against it.
“That’s when Doug and I got involved. That’s not what the vast majority of residents wanted to happen there,” he said.
“We really went to bat against this and normally the MLAs are not involved like that.”
Dalton is also concerned with the low-barrier model, where people don’t have to be clean of drugs or alcohol, in order to stay at a shelter, that’s being proposed for the 21375 Lougheed location.
“The community is concerned about some of the aspects of the low-barrier shelter,” he said. “I think there needs to be some barriers. What these are … that remains to be seen,” he added.
“There’s lots of concerns that individuals are being enabled in their addictions,” said Dalton, a former school teacher.
“Low barrier, in my mind, should not be low barrier. There should be some constraints.”
He wouldn’t say if he would oppose a low-barrier model, but that more discussion is needed.
“I do believe there has to be some flexibility with the different shelters.”
He cited the Hope for Freedom Society’s 25-bed Hilland Lodge, which recently opened in Maple Ridge and works with local churches, saying he also supports abstinence-based programs.