B.C. Housing has approached Maple Ridge with a plan to put homeless people in modular housing.
“There’s a conversation already on the table,” Mayor Nicole Read said Thursday morning. “It’s going back and forth.”
She said the proposal is still in the planning stages, and declined to comment on the number of units or the location for them.
The provincial government recently announced that it will provide 2,000 modular housing units for homeless people across B.C.
During Premier John Horgan’s visit to Maple Ridge on Wednesday to announce seismic upgrades at two local schools, he talked about modular housing as one of the government’s solutions to homelessness.
He noted Vancouver has spoken for 600 units, and Surrey 150.
Read said the province will likely propose sites for the modular units and seek public feedback. Council will approve the plan if rezoning is necessary.
B.C. Housing doesn’t necessarily have to follow that process, she added.
“We’re kind of in an urgent situation, so they need to provide a solution to the camp.”
She said the modular housing may also be a way to house the people in the Anita Place Tent City near the Haney Bypass.
“This camp has gone on longer than Cliff Avenue.”
The Cliff Avenue homeless camp opened in May 2015 and was disbanded that October, when the temporary homeless shelter opened on Lougheed Highway in a former mattress store.
Read said the province is investing in various forms of housing, including low-income rental units.
“That’s great – we need that. I’m sure we will take advantage of some of that,” she said.
However, she noted the latest homeless counts saw that numbers continue to rise, including locally, despite the efforts of governments at all levels.
She said the province needs to put as much emphasis on physical health, mental health and addiction as the underlying issues that cause homelessness.
“It’s a little bit more than just a box.”
Vancouver did a pilot project of modular housing at 220 Terminal Ave., providing 40 units at a cost of $3 million. The units cost $75,000 each and take two months to build.
Read said she agrees “100 per cent” with the premier that the modular housing is critical.
“But how do we stop the flow of people into the streets?” she asked.
Read said a proposed $15-million supportive housing complex and shelter is farther down in the process.
“There’s a long way to go, but this government has shown a commitment to solving this problem.”