The City of Maple Ridge has not yet announced plans for a new permanent supportive housing facility, but expects to share more information in the new year.
“I do expect to see announcements come. We’re working on several pieces, along with senior government,” said Mayor Mike Morden.
“These take time to do due-diligence on viability, on how they’re funded, and to have all of the foundational structure that works for the province, but also that works for the city.”
However, Morden does know that the new supportive housing model will be different than what is currently in place.
“It will be in an abstinence-based model. It will ensure that there are steps there for people to move forward in their lives, as opposed to continue in a same space… not moving forward,” he said.
Residents who remained at Anita Place Tent City when it closed in September were moved to a new 51-unit supportive housing building that opened on Burnett Street that same month.
Garibaldi Ridge is a self-contained modular housing complex with on-site support operated in partnership with BC Housing and Coast Mental Health.
Support services include outreach workers, wellness checks, life-skills training, employment assistance and referral to community services and support groups, according to BC Housing.
There are currently 16 tenants enrolled in Coast Mental Health’s Opioid Replacement Therapy program, according to Susan Hancock, senior manager of communications and community development with the organization.
“These tenants are overseen by an onsite doctor and working towards an abstinence-based lifestyle,” she said “These are people who have spent many years living outside and undiagnosed with serious health concerns.”
Coast Mental Health also operates a 53-unit facility on Royal Crescent Avenue that opened in 2018, as well as a 51-unit facility on Brown Avenue.
“We’re pretty pleased with the progress that we’ve made in one year,” Morden said. “Our city is in a better place than when it was a year ago with a camp that’s been resolved and that is good. However, we know that that didn’t solve a social problem that exists. That is why we launched our Community Social Safety Plan to ensure that we do have a forward-thinking plan.”
Earlier this year, council announced in its 2019 strategic plan it will work with the community and senior levels of government to develop a “multi-faceted Community Safety Plan”
“So that’s going to ensure that the crime is responded to, that people can get the help that they need when they are willing, ready and able to accept that and take those steps,” Morden said.
“We’ve got a vision and it’s going to take a long time. It’s not going to happen overnight and, in the interim, we’re going to take many immediate steps and continue to make those until this long-term plan, which I don’t see as coming to full fruition for several years,” he added.