Mayor Mike Morden at Anita Place Tent City in downtown Maple Ridge. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge mayor talks housing with three cabinet ministers

Morden said he wants no more low-barrier beds

Mayor Michael Morden has said there will be no more low-barrier bed shelters in Maple Ridge.

But he and three provincial cabinet ministers will meet next month to figure out if there are any kind of shelter beds he’d like to see.

Morden is set to meet Health Minister Adrian Dix, Housing and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy in Victoria at the end of February.

“On the table for discussion is going to be working together on what we can do and what’s going to work for them and what’s going to work for us,” Morden said Tuesday.

He’s going to talk with all three “about what a made-in-Maple Ridge formula might look like as far as them spending $60 million in our community.”

Local MLAs Bob D’Eith and Lisa Beare helped set up the meeting.

“They have been very responsive, which is sincerely appreciated and that was initiated by our local MLAs, so that’s pretty great actually,” Morden said.

“There’s a willingness, there’s a spirit of preparedness to work together to come to what’s going to work and be OK with our community and all of that, obviously, will go through a public process. But right now, it’s just exploratory as to see where we go from here,” Morden said.

He has written to the province seeking confirmation that B.C. Housing money allocated to Maple Ridge is still available, but said that the city is “particularly interested in seniors and affordable housing.

He is expecting the province to spend about $60 million in supportive housing, affordable housing and seniors housing in the city.

He also wants to see more work done on Maple Ridge’s community safety plan before meeting the ministers.

The community safety plan is part of the new council’s four-year strategic plan, which was to be presented at council’s Tuesday meeting.

However, it was withdrawn from the agenda in order to clarify some points. That’s expected to be back soon at council, Morden added.

D’Eith said he will be addressing a Maple Ridge council meeting in a few weeks.

“It’s really important to see what council’s priorities are moving forward. The main thing is working together to make sure that we can find a path together, to really help what’s going on in Maple Ridge.

“We know that housing is an issue here. There’s a lot of work to do in terms of dealing with our housing, making it more affordable.”

He’s optimistic that Maple Ridge and the provincial government can agree on a type of facility for supportive housing for social housing.

“I’m actually really looking forward to a re-start, a re-set,” D’Eith said.

He added that he’s talked to the mayor about the issue.

“I really think there’s an opportunity here to roll up our sleeves, get to work and figure out a path. I do think we can get some solutions that make sense for the community and make sense for the people that need it.”

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