Editorial: News Views: Housing project out, now what?

Time to start over, begin talking, sort it out, soon

The people have spoken, loudly, and the government has listened and given up on the plan to convert one of Maple Ridge’s only two motels, the Quality Inn, into a 61-unit supportive housing complex.

The outrage over the lost motel rooms, the potential harm to businesses and the effect on the election fates of Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton weighed in the 11th-hour decision to axe the project.

As one radio host used to rant, “The people are never wrong – even when they’re wrong.”

The government and Housing Minister Rich Coleman can’t be faulted for wanting to provide homes for the city’s most-vulnerable people. But as residents pointed out, the Quality Inn wasn’t the best place. It was a hasty choice, abetted to some extent by the manner in which city council handled the issue.

Instead of taking a more-studied approach, waiting for a social services study to be completed, consulting more with the Salvation Army, instead of trying to shut it down, sounding out the public on possible locations, council pushed for a quick solution. Admittedly, it had good reason to do so because the temporary shelter was supposed to have closed by March and the 40 residents, the ones kicked off Cliff Avenue last fall, had nowhere to go.

Regardless, council is back to square one.

What needs to start soon is  public consultation  on a new supportive housing complex, without the political agendas many bring to the issue.  This could have started soon after this council’s election in 2014, as noted by Coun. Corisa Bell.

Council needs to get people talking. Hear them out. If a decision is sound, most of the public, with their abundance of common sense and compassion, will support it. – The News