Shelter operation questioned

Spike in drug overdoses everywhere: says Mayor Nicole Read

Medical staff attend to a man at the city’s temporary homeless shelter last week.

He’s got a ton of questions about the Maple Ridge temporary shelter and few answers, at least so far.

After a lengthy chat with the shelter’s operators on Nov. 4, Matt Kelso wanted some specifics, such as how many overdoses have taken place at the shelter on Lougheed Highway since it opened at 22239 Lougheed Highway on Oct. 1. He’d also like to know how many have been moved on to permanent housing, how many have gone into rehab or detox programs and how many are changing their lives by looking for jobs or getting mental health help.

And what really are the rules on drug use inside shelter’s gates?

Kelso submitted dozens of questions and was recently told to pare them down to 20 and that he’ll be getting a reply shortly from Rain City Housing, which operates the shelter.

But right now, he’s questioning the operating method.

The shelter opened for six months in order to give those at the Cliff Avenue homeless camp a place to live. The camp was dispersed voluntarily shortly after the shelter opened.

Kelso says that, based on what he hears from his police radio scanner, there have been 100 overdoses at the shelter.

“There have been four overdoses in the last 24 hours, two overdoses within six minutes.”

The exact number of emergency calls to shelter hasn’t been provided yet by either Ridge Meadows RCMP or B.C. Emergency Health Services, nor could the overdoses be confirmed.

The shelter follows a harm-reduction model that tries to connect people to health services, and give them shelter.

“Abstinence is not a requirement for staying at the shelter, but is one of the many possible, positive outcomes that will occur for folks staying at the shelter,” according to a fact sheet from Rain City, which didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“I don’t see it as harm reduction when you have four overdoses [in 24 hours] and two in six minutes,” Kelso said, adding that people who overdose at the shelter shouldn’t be allowed to stay there and that people can’t just continue their habits.

“It’s like having an open bar at an Alcohol Anonymous meeting.

“If they’re going to use, they should use it outside the shelter walls. You can’t refuse help the whole time.”

Kelso said every day he drives by the shelter, emergency vehicles are parked outside.

That could mean an ambulance shortage somewhere else.

“I don’t even know how to respond to that,” Mayor Nicole Read said.

“So what does that mean … so somebody in the shelter deserves an ambulance less than somebody else in the community? I don’t think that would be our community’s position.

“We’re responding anyways. If that person was somewhere else in the community and had an overdose, we would be responding. We’re not simply responding because they’re at the shelter.”

Overdoses are happening everywhere, not just in the shelter, said Read. There’s a spike in overdoses caused by fentanyl.

“We were seeing it in the camp. They’re using no matter where they are.

“This is something we need to stare down. It’s happening in every community. This significantly addicted, street- entrenched population, it requires steady work and encouragement.”

The mayor said talks about a permanent shelter are a priority and the public will be involved at some point.

However, a new, permanent shelter will not be open by the time the temporary shelter closes April 1.

She added that there needs to be discharge plans in place so that people who come out of prisons and treatment centres don’t end up on city streets.

The city also wants to have an update discussion with B.C. Housing following Maple Ridge’s request for that agency to cut the $1 million yearly it gives the Salvation Army for its 25-bed emergency shelter at the Caring Place.

The contract doesn’t end until spring of 2017.

Kelso said he wants the issue discussed and supports a recently filed freedom of information request to the city about the shelter so that there can be an informed discussion as Maple Ridge considers a permanent shelter.

That should be arriving in a few weeks.

“What I really want is to get the facts now, as soon as possible, so that when there is a permanent shelter, we can decide which works better, the Salvation Army or this model.”

 

Just Posted

MacDuff’s Call: A fond memory, of an old-school teacher

A new year starts in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Flames lose first game of new season

Maple Ridge junior Bs host White Rock Whalers Friday night

Maple Ridge Bears group hosts public forum Monday

Critical time to keep bears away from human conflict

Signs of recovery in real estate industry

Buyers lining up in Maple Ridge, summer sales close to normal

Maple Ridge homeless camp closes, works starts on park: city

Tent city residents in supportive housing

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Vancouver’s Tristan Connelly shocks the UFC world

Late replacement upsets big favourite Pereira, main event sees Gaethje stop Cerrone in round one

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

Most Read