People perturbed by supportive housing planned for Burnett Street can ask questions over a YouTube Live question-and-answer session Monday, April 15.
B.C. Housing is organizing the live session between 7 and 8:30 p.m. and will give people the chance to submit their questions to a panel for response.
B.C. Housing is building 51 units of supportive temporary housing at 11749 Burnett St. for the residents of Anita Place Tent City and others experiencing homelessness.
Coast Mental Health will be the building operator, providing 24-hour support to residents and be low-barrier.
Those opposed to the project held a rally on March 30 in downtown Maple Ridge. Another protest is planned for April 14, both of which were organized by Jamie Seip, who volunteered with Mayor Michael Morden’s October 2018 election campaign. Seip also helped out with MLA Bob D’Eith’s campaign in 2017.
The April 14 rally will be better organized with more wide-ranging publicity, Seip said, adding that MLAs have been invited along with local politicians from surrounding cities.
He’s started a group, B.C. Communities United, that will address the issue across the province and possibly launch MLA recall campaigns.
In October 2018, B.C. Housing opened 53 units of temporary supportive housing in the 22500-block Royal Crescent.
It is also run by Coast Mental Health.
People can also submit their questions about the Burnett Street project via the B.C. Housing website, where several points already have been raised.
According to numbers provided by B.C. Housing, Maple Ridge is in the middle of the pack when considering the total number of shelter beds per capita, as well as the total number of homeless units per capita.
When it comes to the number of total shelter beds, Maple Ridge has .67 shelter beds per 1,000 people, less than New Westminster (.75) and Chilliwack (1.34).
However, it has more shelter beds, comparatively, than Tri-Cities (Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam – .13) and Langley, (.21) and Abbotsford, (.14).
Burnaby has no shelter beds for its population of more than 200,000.
When it comes to the total number of homeless units per 1,000 people, Maple Ridge has three per 1,000 people, while New Westminster has 3.4 and Chilliwack has 3.5.
Langley has .69 and Abbotsford, 2.28.
B.C. Housing, though, said housing for homelessness is not allocated on a per-capita basis, but is built in response to the need in each city.
Wesley Mann, with Burnett Street Neighbours, which opposes the new complex, said the online event is a way of suppressing response.
“I think what we need is a town hall situation where people can have their say and have other people hear them.”
He said that, so far, his group hasn’t been asked to speak at the April 14 rally, which is being organized separately.
“We definitely support what they’re doing,” Mann added.
Seip said that questions that some Maple Ridge residents have been blocked after sending in their questions to the B.C. Housing website.
He said his group doesn’t oppose the building on Burnett Street.
“What we’re against is the plan that they have in place to run them.”
Instead, there should be an option for housing for those that aren’t using drugs, he added.