With vacancy cited as one of the primary concerns, the Earl Haig Housing Society has put the Legion House property up for sale.
The property, owned by the society but managed and administered through the Maple Ridge Legion Branch No. 88, is a seniors living community located at 11797 Burnett St.
Built in 2002, the facility provides 19 independent living units for seniors that are not yet prepared to move into a care home.
A letter distributed to tenants April 16 by legion secretary manager Shawn Robinson says the legion does not know whether the sale will bring about a change of use to the property.
“We have no idea whether there will be a change of use, I hope not,” Robinson told The News on Tuesday. “We don’t know for sure, it’s in the preliminary stages and now, of course, this pandemic has gotten in the way of all that, too.”
However, if the new owners decide to repurpose the property, Robinson said the society indicated it will its part to see that tenants are not without a home.
“(Tenants) don’t have to worry about anything imminent, it’s not going to happen really quickly. If it turned out, for instance, that somebody bought it for a different use, than the directors have already made it very clear they want to give as much notice as possible and put in as much effort as possible to relocate all the residents to their satisfaction.”
If the society learns the property will be repurposed, Robinson said Earl Haig directors are considering six or eight month notice to tenants.
“It’s not like anybody is going to get chucked out of their house.”
Robinson listed a number of potential reasons why the Earl Haig Housing Society directors have decided to put the building on the market, including an issue with vacancy that has been going on for at least five years.
“Over the last few years things have got a little bit difficult there,” he said. “They had a little bit of a problem with staffing, a little bit of a problem with caterers, there has been a number of different things on the go,” he said. “And now, we’re having a serious problem trying to keep the place full.”
In 2018, the legion voiced concern about a supportive housing complex that was planned to open next door to the Legion House.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced it wanted to construct a 40-bed supportive housing complex, with another 40 emergency shelter beds at 11749 Burnett St.
A group called Burnett Street Neighbours organized a petition against the proposal by B.C. Housing to construct a modular facility at 11749 and 11761 Burnett St. The petition secured more than 10,000 signatures.
Maple Ridge council defeated the first reading of the rezoning application, 5-2 in 2018.
However, the following year, the provincial government constructed 51 supportive modular homes on the 11749 Burnett St. property, the same site rejected by council the prior year.
“We understand that the province has the jurisdiction to act unilaterally,” Mayor Mike Morden said last year.
When the new supportive building was announced last year,titled Garibaldi Ridge Supportive Housing, Burnett Street Neighbours member Wesley Mann labelled it an “outrage.”
“We changed our municipal government. We’ll change our provincial one,” Mann said.
According to BC Housing, supportive housing is a self-contained home with supports provided on site, including outreach workers, wellness checks, life skills training, employment assistance, and referral to community services and support groups. Residents are connected to counselling, as well as health, and addiction recovery services.
Coast Mental Health operates the new building, providing 24-hour supports for residents. Fraser Health provides clinical support services at the new sites.
The supportive facility opened in September last year.