(THE NEWS/files)                                People have concerns about supportive housing on Burnett Street.

(THE NEWS/files) People have concerns about supportive housing on Burnett Street.

Second meeting for supportive housing in Maple Ridge

Petition now has 4,000 names, says organizer

A date has now been set for people who have questions about the 80-unit supportive housing complex planned for 11749 Burnett St. in Maple Ridge.

It happens next Thursday, between 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Thomas Haney secondary, and Eric Boland plans on being there.

He’s part of the Burnett Street Neighbours group that’s organizing a petition against the proposal by B.C. Housing to construct 40 new supportive homes along with 40 shelter beds, 24-hour staffing and support, to be run by the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.

And the first question he’ll ask is why local neighbours weren’t consulted before the location was announced?

He started a petition that now has more than 4,000 names against the supportive shelter and also against modular housing for the homeless. The location for the latter, on Royal Avenue, was announced Monday.

Boland said his group isn’t anti-homeless, but disagrees with the Burnett St. location.

“We want the best for our community,” he said.

Instead, he wants the recommendations of the citizens advisory committee, created by former Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton, to be followed. The main recommendations from that was that a shelter not be a low-barrier facility and that it not be in the downtown.

Ahmed Yousef, who’s also part of the group and lives in the area, said public attention could be waning as weeks pass between updates from the government.

City council must also still approve any application to build the housing complex.

That could be part of the government’s strategy to dissipate opposition, he added.

And he restated the earlier view: “It’s not so much that people are opposed to supportive housing. It’s that particular location with that particular model, wouldn’t work for the neighbourhood.”

Instead, he favours centralizing addiction, mental health and homeless services into one location in the Metro Vancouver area.

That would be far more cost efficient, he added.

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