The Government of British Columbia, B.C. Housing and the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation intend to seek an injunction to ensure construction of temporary modular housing can begin for people who are homeless in Maple Ridge.
A group of protesters who oppose the project has set up a camp at 22534, 22548 and 22566 Royal Cres., a Crown-owned property scheduled for construction of temporary supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness.
The injunction application comes after protesters ignored trespass notices and remained on site Monday.
“This protest threatens to delay homes for vulnerable people with an urgent need for housing and support to stabilize and move on,” Selina Robinson, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said in a release.
“We have to get moving on site preparation and construction, to ensure we can move people indoors before next winter.”
— Tom Fletcher (@tomfletcherbc) May 15, 2018
Robinson said in an interview that the concerns she’s heard are around consultation.
“We’ve had consultation and we’ll continue to have consultation around how to move forward with permanent use of that site,” she added.
“In this particular community, we have explored numerous locations, and we have this opportunity now to put in some temporary modular housing. We have just a few months to get this up and running, so people don’t have to spend yet another winter out in the open.”
B.C. Housing has hosted three public information sessions since January, two focused on the Royal Crescent site.It presented to city council on multiple occasions on the growing issue of homelessness in Maple Ridge and potential solutions, said the government in the release.
Over 1,400 community members attended the information sessions, where they had the opportunity to view proposed housing plans, and speak with representatives from B.C. Housing, Fraser Health and the local intensive case management team.
“In many communities there has been tremendous support to bring this housing online,” Robinson said. “It comes with services to help people rebuild their lives, to make sure they can stabilize. Where we do see this issue, we work with the community, but at this juncture we have done the consultation. We need to get moving.”
The province and B.C. Housing will consult further with the City of Maple Ridge and residents regarding permanent use of the site, said the release.
In the interim, approximately 55 units of modular housing will be placed on the Royal Crescent site for up to three years.
This project is part of the Building B.C.: Rapid Response to Homelessness program that is used in other B.C. communities, including the City of Vancouver.
Coast Mental Health will manage the Royal Crescenty property, operations, and assess all potential tenants to ensure the appropriate on-site support services are available.
The Royal Crescent facility is expected to be ready to welcome residents by fall 2018.
People occupying the B.C. Housing site for temporary modular housing on Royal Crescent were told Monday they had to clear out by 7 p.m. that day.
The remained on site Monday evening and held a community barbecue, with hot dogs and hamburgers.
Someone from B.C. Housing, or the Provincial Rental Housing Corp., handed out trespass notices at about lunchtime Monday, stating that, under the Trespass Act, they have to leave because they’re on site without the consent of the provincial rental housing corporation.
The notices also said that if people didn’t vacate by the ordered time, they could be arrested.
“They were very polite, but they brought four police,” Alison Edgar said on the site.
A handful of protesters moved on to the site at 22548 Royal Cres., last Thursday, hours after the old Mussallem house was hauled away to the Maple Ridge Cemetery, where it will serve as a caretaker’s house.
They object to B.C. Housing developing the site for 55 modular housing units without consulting the community or going through rezoning.
B.C. Housing wants to build the temporary facility by September, with the intent of housing the people currently in the Anita Place Tent City, which has been around for more than a year, just two blocks from the modular housing location.
About 10 or 12 people camped out over the weekend at the Royal Crescent site.
“If they come and arrest us, they might as well put duct tape over everybody,” Mike Hayner said Monday afternoon.
“They haven’t even done impact studies [on the effects of modular housing], as far as I know,” he added.
“You can’t take every form of homelessness and put them into one place.”
Hayner said a lawyer is looking at the trespass notices.
People struggling with substance abuse need assessment and treatment, added Terry Asunma.
Ryan Svendsen said if B.C. Housing proceeds with the facility without seeking city approval, “this is going to set the rights of municipalities back 30 years. The stakes are very high, the precedent that will be set.”