Campers at Anita Place Tent City in downtown Maple Ridge are getting a break from the cold with the arrival of a washroom building last week.
Crews were busy digging water and sewer lines earlier in the week in preparation for the arrival of the portable structure, which has two toilets and a shower and used to be located at the temporary emergency shelter on Lougheed Highway.
Camp volunteer Chris Bossley said last week that the trailer was moved on to the site of the camp on Thursday.
“They’re working on the services. At this point, I don’t think it’s operational yet,” she said Friday.
The portable building is the same structure that was in the former RainCity Housing shelter located in the old mattress shop at 22239 Lougheed Hwy., which recently re-opened to provide space for 25 beds for extreme weather response.
The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries is now managing the extreme-weather shelter. Washrooms are already inside that building and Porta-potties have been brought in, as well.
The Salvation Army’s main building also operates its own 30-bed emergency shelter, plus another 30 sleeping spaces on the cafeteria floor, intended for residents of the temporary emergency shelter that closed in March.
Meanwhile, there’s been little other progress in finding a location for a supportive housing complex, shelter or modular housing.
Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith said in November that B.C. Housing would have an information session about modular housing. But that has yet to take place. B.C. Housing said later that it won’t hold a public meeting until a location has been chosen for a housing project.
D’Eith, last week, referred calls to B.C .Housing, which, as of Dec. 21, said a location hasn’t yet been found for any kind of shelter, nor is there a date set for a public meeting.
B.C. Housing is “actively working with the City of Maple Ridge to find suitable locations for modular housing,” said spokesperson Rajvir Rao.
However, B.C. Housing has provided the residents at tent city with fire-resistent tarps and sleeping bags and cold weather clothing, while tents are starting to be replaced this week, Rao said.
A court order on Nov. 27 required those items to be provided, part of the agreement the city and camp lawyers made in return for the city’s suspending its injunction to clear the camp.
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said the city has not yet heard any proposals from B.C. Housing.
“I think everybody is a bit frustrated. We’ve now had this camp since May.
“Why is it taking so long? I don’t know?”
She disagreed that division on council is delaying a housing solution.
“Council supported the last two things brought forward by the province. It wasn’t us that pulled it off the table, it was the province.”
The Quality Inn and another location at Lougheed Highway and 213th Street were proposed as locations for supportive housing project in 2016, but were cancelled by the then-Liberal government after public outcry and opposition by the two former Liberal MLAs.
There could be differences of opinion at council but so far there’s nothing to debate, Read said.