Letters: ‘Time to call it a day, Sandy’

'You know very well that my comments about the supportive housing timeline reflect only the purpose-built facility.'

Editor, The News:

Re: Twin devils of confusion, inaction (Sidewinder, May 20).

Sandy Macdougall, if you can’t be relevant without being accurate, perhaps it’s time to call it a day.

It’s clear from your article that you know very well that my comments about the supportive housing timeline reflect only the purpose-built facility.

But your opening paragraph sets the tone and suggests to the public that I’ve somehow mislead them:

“Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read’s recent statement that she knew all along that it would take five years to provide supportive housing in Maple Ridge sounds a lot like someone covering her own behind.”

I voted for the Quality Inn, along with four other members of council because it was made clear to us by the minister and by B.C. Housing that an interim supportive housing solution was needed as a bridge for the remaining homeless citizens in the temporary shelter who have severe addiction and mental health issues.

While that solution had its challenges, these are people we have fought hard to keep off our streets. They need supportive housing.

The Quality Inn solution was brought forward by the provincial government as the solution to keeping those mentally ill, addicted citizens off our streets.

The province planned to have it up and running within months.

So, let’s be honest with each other. The public knows full well that B.C. Housing can get supportive housing on the ground in our community quickly.

The public knows that I know it. And you know that I know it, too.

My position hasn’t changed. The purpose-built facility was never the immediate solution for those that remain in the shelter.

And nobody, not B.C. Housing, not me, not the other members of council, ever thought it was.

The time lines you cite in your article are the time lines that have always been attached to the purpose-built facility, ever since the funding for it was announced by the province.

We all know you know that.

But I must admit, you’re crafty.

Trying to slowly, creatively brand a message that the long time frame to get the purpose-built facility up and running is the reason for remaining mentally ill and addicted shelter residents having no place to go.

It’s perfect.

Deflect from those you know full well to be responsible in the hopes that you can produce an outcome locally that meets with your own political preferences.

But if you actually cared as much as you’ve said you do in the past, about addressing mental health, addiction and homelessness, you’d help to depict the story accurately.

Victoria, Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Langley, Abbotsford … the list of big cities with burgeoning homeless populations goes on and on.

Victoria just gave its camp running water.

B.C. Youth Advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, responding to findings of several kids in the Victoria homeless camp, called our social care system in B.C. “a canary in a coal mine.”

And cities are focused on amending bylaws around homeless tenting in parks because provincial and federal failures have resulted in so many sick people hitting the streets that we’re trying to manage tents instead of offering adequate education, health care and housing.

But I digress.

Because you don’t want to focus on the fact that the system is failing our kids and landing them on our streets and then leaving them stigmatized and without proper supports.

No, we get it, Mr. Macdougall. Let’s keep the focus on municipal government.

Let’s not ask our local MLAs, who are coming up on an election in 2017, why our current population of young homeless people who fell through the cracks as kids, are still sitting in a shelter, after eight months, with no proper, immediate supportive housing on the table.

Come on, Sandy, your readers deserve better from you.

Nicole Read, mayor

Maple Ridge


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