Maple Ridge MLAs host shelter meeting

Three-hour session planned for Tuesday night at Maple Ridge Baptist church

The big meeting is on this Tuesday, Jan. 31, when people will be able to tell their MLAs what they think about building a homeless shelter and supportive housing facility in Maple Ridge.

Doors open at 6 p.m., with the actual meeting taking place between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the Maple Ridge Baptist Church, on Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street.

MLAs Doug Bing, Marc Dalton and B.C. Housing are hosting the meeting after taking over the consultation process last year.

Both opposed previous locations suggested by B.C. Housing, one being the Quality Inn, which would have served as an interim location until a $15-million, 60-unit shelter could be built elsewhere.

That proposal was cancelled last spring, as well as B.C. Housing’s plan later in the year to build a permanent, shelter and supportive housing facility at 21375 Lougheed Hwy.

So far, no alternative location has been chosen, leaving it unclear where the 40 residents currently in the temporary homeless shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy. will go. The temporary homeless shelter is supposed to close March 31, after being twice delayed.

Former council candidate Grover Telford, who opposes low-barrier shelters, plans on being there.

“I’m going to listen to hear what they have to say before I make any comments.”

Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs plans on attending, even though it’s the provincial politicians organizing the event.

“I’m going to the be there. I think it’s only being respectful. I’m really happy that they’re putting this on and it’s happening.”

But Speirs said there’s no way the MLAs can avoid the need for a supportive housing facility in Maple Ridge.

“They know what the right thing to do is, and I want them to get on it.”

He opposes a scattered shelter approach, which places people throughout the community, because it doesn’t provide enough support to those trying to recover.

“These folks are the most vulnerable population.”

Bing and Dalton were handed the task of approving a supportive housing location in September, following Premier Christy Clark’s visit to Maple Ridge.