Grant Contois, at Express Care oil change, has concerns about location of housing complex. (THE NEWS/files)

Grant Contois, at Express Care oil change, has concerns about location of housing complex. (THE NEWS/files)

Rally in Maple Ridge against supportive housing and shelter

Two gatherings on weekend, and another in the works

Petitions and protests are already happening against the new Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries supportive housing and shelter, announced for Burnett Street last week.

People rallied outside the intended location at 11749 Burnett St. on both days on the weekend, while another rally is planned for this Saturday, Jan. 20, in front of Maple Ridge city hall at 1 p.m.

“We’re just being told, ‘too bad, so sad,’ ” said Jessy Flynn, who lives nearby on Burnett Street.

“It’s not fair that the City of Maple Ridge wasn’t notified, as well.”

She said the area has been slowly starting to improve as people buy into the relatively cheaper homes in the area and fix them up. Now, she’s worried that will be threatened by the construction of a 40-bed supportive housing complex and a 40-bed emergency shelter across the street.

“I’ve had ladies with tears in their eyes, ‘We don’t want to move but I don’t want my kid walking by this every day.’”

She’s particularly concerned about open drug use and discarded needles by the 40-bed emergency shelter, which is to house a more transient population compared to those in the long-term supportive housing.

Thomas Haney secondary and Golden Ears elementary are nearby and there’s also a pathway that kids take to get to Valley Fair Mall, she points out.

Flynn and others are circulating a petition to be sent to both MLAs, Housing Minister Selina Robinson and Mayor Nicole Read, opposing the location.

“We’re trying to aim for 2,000 signatures in our neighbourhood right now,” said Flynn.

She said that the city should have been told about shelter and there should have been an impact study done on how the project could affect the area. She’s also worried about house prices dropping nearby as a result.

The provincial government has said that a public meeting will take place at the end of the month, but no date has yet been set.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing last week announced that a 40-bed supportive housing complex and 40-bed shelter would be built within a year at 11749 Burnett St., allowing the Salvation Army to relocate from its present building at 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway.

The government also announced an affordable housing complex will be built 21375 Lougheed Hwy., and that modular housing units will also be built in Maple Ridge once a location has been found.

The exact rezoning process that will take place for the supportive housing complex will be explained later by city staff.