Pitt Meadows Coun. Bill Dingwall opposes having modular housing for homeless people in his city.
He said residents have been alarmed by two recent proposals, and he is not hearing any support for locating housing aimed at reducing the street population in Pitt Meadows.
Ron Jones, a local land owner and developer, offered 11 acres at the northwest corner of the intersection of Harris Road and Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows for “drop camp” style modular units.
Ivan Drury and spokespeople for Anita Place Tent City in Maple Ridge have asked for 200 units as a temporary solution to homelessness.
The Jones site has already been deemed unsuitable by B.C. Housing, which would provide funding for the modular housing.
Last week, however, Coun. Bruce Bell said he will pitch a property on the northeast corner of the same intersection for a supportive housing complex, along with high-density affordable housing.
It’s hard to find supporters for that plan, said Dingwall.
“We know there’s one, but I don’t think there’s many,” he said, referring to Bell.
Dingwall posted his opinions on three different social media pages, and has heard only opposition to these plans.
“I wanted to calm some of the community concern,” he said.
Mayor John Becker also took that approach, with a statement about policing costs during a five-hour business planning meeting on Wednesday.
“I want to make it clear for the public – there is no modular housing currently going to be dropped into Pitt Meadows anytime soon,” he said. “That was an idea that was floated that is not going to proceed.”
Dingwall said he doesn’t want the sudden interest in Pitt Meadow sites to gain any traction, when he is convinced it would not work there.
Dingwall said the comparatively small size of Pitt Meadows will amplify the negative impacts of such housing.
“Here we are, the smallest community in the Lower Mainland, and there’s talk about putting a homeless community here,” he said.
“The services are all in Maple Ridge,” he said. “Maple Ridge has the Salvation Army and the addictions centres … everything is all there.”
Of the 112 RCMP officers in the local detachment, only 23 are in Pitt Meadows. Maple Ridge also has more full-time firefighters to respond to overdoses and other health emergencies, Dingwall said.
He added, calls for service would increase if the homeless population is housed in Pitt Meadows.
“It’s a really big drain on first responders,” said Dingwall, who is a former RCMP detachment commander.
He said the proposed parcels of land in Pitt Meadows are in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Property in that area will be needed for transportation and traffic congestion issues.
“For properties east of Harris, this land known as the North Lougheed study area is in our OCP [Official Community Plan] – is not identified for this type of use – but regardless was deferred indefinitely by this council. The land is privately owned and I am not aware of any applications by any of them to consider this type of use. No doubt this area will and should rightfully be considered during the upcoming OCP review starting in 2018 and expected to be complete in 18-24 months,” he wrote in social media.
Dingwall said there is no doubt Pitt Meadows has some homeless people, and the city should be involved in solutions.
“Pitt Meadows should be working with Maple Ridge, if they want our advice and participation.”