Anita Place Tent City and fire department have worked to improve safety there. (THE NEWS/files)

News Views: Action time

New Maple Ridge mayor wants to work with senior governments.

Here we go again on homelessness.

Maple Ridge’s new mayor, Mike Morden, doesn’t like to use that term.

He suggests the issue is more about addiction. He wants assessments done on each person living without a home, and campaigned on the message that more detox beds are required, that laws need to be enforced. He also wants to close the homeless camp.

But he’s the mayor-elect, not a police officer, nor a lawyer, nor a judge.

Firefighters can detail the safety risks at a camp such as Anita Place, but they can’t clear it, either.

Cities also don’t fund or provide detox or recovery beds.

Some are publicly funded, some are private. Some have medical staff on site, others don’t. Some cost a lot.

In short, they need to be funded. Morden says he wants to work with senior governments.

Meanwhile, B.C. Housing has promised up to $15 million to build a permanent supportive housing and homeless shelter in Maple Ridge.

And temporary modular housing just opened days before the municipal election to help clear those staying at Anita Place. Emergency shelter beds are also available at the Salvation Army building and the Baptist Church, through the Hope for Freedom Society, as cooler weather approaches.

The previous council rejected a property on Burnett Street for the supportive housing facility, after residents petitioned against it. They also petitioned against the Royal Crescent site. And some of those who assisted in those protests or supported them are now on council.

Morden, when president of the chamber of commerce, started a petition opposing the purchase of the former motel on Lougheed Highway for long-term housing.

Morden started the Action Maple Ridge group, which opposed another site along Lougheed Highway for a supportive housing, shelter facility.

Morden also denounced the Royal Crescent location.

The Action Maple Ridge group opposes the low-barrier model, which, as the Sally Ann learned, is a funding requirement of B.C. Housing.

With the team Maple Ridge has elected, Morden will have his way. Now we will have to wait and see if they are able to make the city better for all its citizens.

Roosting up all those who were content to camp in the bushes and pushing them onto one street may have shown the extent of the problem. But it also showed the ugly side of this city and led us to where we are now, which is no further ahead than before.

– The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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