Province says it will pay for a shelter if the city can provide the space

Can't be located near another major residential area, says councillor

The provincial government has some cash to house the homeless in Maple Ridge, Mayor Nicole Read announced Friday.

Just how much money that involves, when it will be spent or where a temporary shelter will be located in an effort to disband the Cliff Avenue camp, remains to be revealed.

Read said the government was ready to help following a Tweet Thursday by Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton saying B.C. Housing will pay for the shelter once the city finds a location.

He checked Thursday with Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman to ensure he could make the statement.

“The province is committed to covering the operating costs of this facility,” Dalton said.

Finding a spot where residents of the Cliff Avenue camp can go and which neighbours will accept needs input from the community. “It needs to work for everybody.”

Read said previously that B.C. Housing was willing to help while Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MP Doug Bing said the B.C. Housing also would help fund a second supportive housing project such as Alouette Heights.

According to Coleman, the province will pay the operating costs if the city provides a suitable building.

“The Province is prepared to fund a temporary shelter provided by the city for several months, while working to find permanent housing for those who need it,” Coleman said by e-mail.

Coun. Craig Speirs said the city, within a month, should be able to find a building that it can lease. It has to be located near social services but not close to a residential area. The shelter may require capacity to house 100 people in basic accommodation, which may involve cubicle type residences.

“It’s not going to be a deluxe situation.”

And he expects the shelter to be operating only for six months to allow people to find market housing.

“We have our eyes on a couple places but nothing firm yet.”

And no other residential area can be affected. “Any solution we come up with can’t involve a substantial residential neighbourhood.

“I don’t think it’s a scary proposal. I think it will be well managed.”

The focus is on getting people into market housing. B.C. Housing has said it will provide as many rental supplements as needed, he added.

“People can’t expect to live on the street or camp on public property. It’s just not on for the long term.”

Read said a temporary shelter is a key part to ending the Cliff Avenue camp and praised the homeowners and business owners who live there for their patience.

We have reached an important milestone in ending the Cliff Avenue camp.”