A final fix to the intersection at Lougheed Highway and Haney Bypass seems far away as the city and province continue to quarrel over the corner.
“We’ve been having meetings for four years,” Mayor Nicole Read said Thursday.
The city had expected the ministry to buy the lot occupied by the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries and tear down the building so that a full two-lane exit ramp could lead off Lougheed Highway on to the bypass.
“We have some evidence-based reasons why we want to have the intersection done properly at 222nd and Lougheed. Because you need the room in order to create the flow and you need to not be crossing the street,” Read said.
That requires using the land on which the Salvation Army is located.
The ministry said it would be removing the Salvation Army initially, Read added.
But in February, the ministry said it would only need a five-metre-wide strip of the Salvation Army property, allowing the building to remain. It said there still will be two lanes turning on to the bypass, and that the plans hadn’t be scaled back.
Maple Ridge first learned indirectly that the Salvation Army would remain, Read said.
“They downscaled it in order to keep the Salvation Army there. The bypass is a major intersection improvement that supports the entire city and all the regions surrounding it,” Read said Thursday.
“I believe they made the change because they didn’t want to force the Salvation Army to move from that location.”
At council’s Tuesday meeting, Read said that the property “got tied up in the politics of homelessness that had nothing to do with the city.”
Read said the goal should be to move traffic efficiently and to do it right the first time.
Coun. Bob Masse is also unhappy about the current plans for the intersection, saying that the ministry just didn’t want to spend the money.
“It just doesn’t make anywhere near as good of a fix for the bypass,” said Masse.
Not doing the corner properly means there will be no left turns off Lougheed Highway on to 222nd Street.
“It’s just a poor, dumbed-down version. I don’t know what all the motivations were,” he added.
“It’s just a poorer version of the project and our engineers certainly don’t agree with their engineers on what the right way is to go about this to make it so it’s actually going to work,” Masse said.
He hasn’t heard if there’s any progress being made.
“We’ve got to get that Lougheed Highway corridor right. The B-Line is going to be running down it. We’re going to have a whole lot of development around it. If they screw that intersection up now, it’s just not going to be good.”
In May, city council rejected at first reading an 85-unit supportive housing complex on Burnett Street that would have been run by the Salvation Army, allowing it move from its current centre.
While the Salvation Army building remains, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure did buy the adjoining property occupied by Maple Ridge Pool and Spa.
Joanne Pinkney, who owned the building, said she had to vacate the building in a rush in July, but so far that building remains untouched.
Coun. Gordy Robson, who’s seeking re-election, notes that the city’s engineer and its consultant consider the current design proposed for the corner, by the ministry, will make it worse.
He said without being able to access the Salvation Army property, there will only be room for two right-hand turns on to the Haney Bypass, eastbound, off Lougheed Highway, and room for only one lane east into downtown and no left-turn lane.
Darrell Pilgrim, executive-director with the Salvation Army Caring Place, said that the ministry needs a new location, although one’s not been identified.
“Our shelter is not sufficient enough to support what our community needs. The shelter is in no way big enough for what our community needs, and it doesn’t have the right level of support our community needs.”
The Sally Ann is still hoping to find a new location, he added.
But the Haney Bypass expansion and moving the Salvation Army are separate topics, Pilgrim added.
“Our community needs more housing for everybody. And we are hoping that in the future we can provide more housing.”
MLA Lisa Beare said people have waited long enough to get the Haney Bypass upgraded.
“I appreciate the concerns raised by the Maple Ridge council and understand the ministry has worked with the city to redesign the project and will be moving ahead with tendering in the coming weeks.”