Site still being sought for supportive housing

As many as 10 other locations considered in Maple Ridge.

The temporary shelter in downtown Maple Ridge is to close at the end of March.

Local MLAs and B.C. Housing continue to search for an alternate site for a proposed supportive housing facility in Maple Ridge.

The Liberal MLAs have taken over the duties of choosing a location for the shelter after council voted to hand over that responsibility in September.

That followed a statement earlier this year from B.C. Premier Christy Clark when she said the MLAs would have the final say on the shelter’s location, despite the city conducting the bylaw and consultation process.

“We haven’t found a new site. But we’re still looking,” said MLA Doug Bing, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows. “They’ve brought a few proposals forward that, for different reasons, weren’t an improvement on the first site.”

B.C. Housing is still looking and bringing proposals forward, he added.

“We’ve pointed this out to them and they’ve taken a second look … “

He said they’ve looked at more than 10 locations. Some are still being considered.

“They all have pluses and minuses. Every location has to be evaluated. You’re looking for the most pluses.”

The temporary homeless shelter operated by RainCity Housing in downtown Maple Ridge is to close March 31.

Maple Ridge council asked five provincial representatives to provide an update Monday on the proposed new $15-million homeless shelter and supportive housing project, including Bing, included Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton and Housing Minister Rich Coleman, but none attended.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read admitted the invitation, made the previous Thursday, was short notice.

“We’re eagerly awaiting an update. We didn’t expect everybody to come, but we hoped that at least one person would be able to move something around,” Read said Wednesday.

Instead, council wrote a letter asking to be informed and to schedule a meeting so that provincial officials can tell council what’s going on.

Read said the city remains opposed to any further extension, beyond the year already given, of the present temporary homeless shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy., where cots are placed side by side in a former mattress store.

“You can’t keep people for that long in that space. It’s not designed for that.”

Local MLAs recently met with Coleman and will meet soon with Read.

“We’re also hearing from the community. It’s really important that we get it right,” Dalton said of the supportive housing proposal.

The current proposed location, 21375 Lougheed Hwy., bought by the city after being recommended by B.C. Housing, hasn’t been formally rejected.

“Everything’s on the table right now. But we’ve heard a lot about that location from residents. We’re well aware of the problems in that area,” Dalton added.

A petition has been collected by neighbours and businesses opposing that site.

Dalton said many proposed locations trigger the same response from residents, because most don’t want such a facility near them.

Locations for an interim homeless shelter, possibly using refurbished shipping containers, are also being considered.

“We’re having lots of conversations,” Dalton said.

It’s not certain what process will be followed once the MLAs have a identified a location.

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