News Views: Conundrum

Several petitions have been started online against supportive housing project at Maple Ridge hotel.

Several petitions have been started online against long-term supportive housing at the Quality Inn, including one by former Maple Ridge councillor Mike Morden, the other by staff at The Pantry, adjoined to the hotel on Lougheed Highway since it was built in the 1980s.

The latter fear for their jobs.

Morden and others think the hotel is a poor location and want more consultation.

Some have suggested supportive housing for those moving out of the city’s temporary homeless shelter be further east, although Morden understands such services need to be close to others. Some others wish not to see such a facility in Maple Ridge, period.

The conundrum is that those who are difficult to house need support or they could end up back where they came from, camping on the street.

And as Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read has pointed out, refusing B.C. Housing’s $5.5 million offer to buy the hotel, which was listed for sale, would be difficult, since there are few other existing options with enough space, and that B.C. courts have previously ruled cities are required to provide supportive accommodations if they won’t allow homeless to camp.

B.C. Housing is planning a public information session and will have to follow the city rezoning process. Council, though, has already voted 5-2 in favour of an initial resolution to convert the Quality Inn.

Coun. Gordy Robson was one who opposed it. He thinks those at the city shelter should be moved to  treatment facilities. He and others also fear supportive housing at the hotel could tear the neighbourhood, even the community apart.

We would side with him, except that downtown Maple Ridge has been dealing with homelessness and its associated ills – addiction, mental illness, thefts and property damage – for more than a decade. No neighbourhood suffered more than that around the Salvation Army. The only real improvements occurred when the temporary shelter opened.

Passing problems around is no solution. The province is offering to purchase the hotel because a need exists.

But is this decision being rushed? If the temporary shelter funding can be extended three more months, why not six, while more consultation occurs to see if a resolution that more appeases the community can be found?

To suggest that waiting could create a lag in services is to pretend they existed here to begin with.


– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News