News Views: Moving ahead

Maple Ridge council voted to “pause” supportive housing project.

Maple Ridge council, at a special meeting on short notice Wednesday, built itself a way out of the controversy boiling over the proposed purchase of the Quality Inn for supportive housing.

Council voted to “pause” the project, which requires city rezoning approval, until B.C. Housing comes forward with a date for a public meeting and specific details about the housing project.

A second condition, which passed 4-3, was that local MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton work with their own Liberal government and support the project. Neither was present at the special meeting, although Liberal MP Dan Ruimy was, as were no less than four members of the previous council.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read has accused Bing, specifically, of not supporting the housing project. He has not publicly done so, although he said on Tuesday that he’s not opposed to it.

That’s not the same.

But what does it matter the MLAs’ stance if B.C. Housing is already on side and offering money, and an operator, to help the city continue its efforts to help those who are most difficult to house?

The real difficulty is coping with the backlash and repercussions of taking one of only two motels in the city and threatening the jobs of hundreds of workers in the area, not to mention angering nearby residents.

Read deflected many questions from the public on Wednesday and directed them at B.C. Housing. But if the city is confident enough to move forward with this project, council and staff must have considered most of what residents are asking and, therefore, should be able to respond to them in some form.

It would be neglectful otherwise.

What the mayor is doing is what she is often accused of, and that is not being transparent.

Gordy Robson revealed at the meeting that during in-camera discussions at one time a “barge” was considered for the next stage of housing for those at the temporary shelter. Read did acknowledge a different housing approach, as well, called scattering.

But such options are not being presented. An explanation might help, as both sound more appealing than the present suggestion.

We understand there are no easy answers here, that the urgency is tied to funding, and that fear exists.

Nobody wants the supportive housing project near them.

Reopening Riverview is everyone’s fallback solution, except for the provincial government.

And the health region is woefully underserved with beds to help those who occupy homeless shelters – the mentally ill and addicted.

Some municipalities in the region, just as some provinces, don’t want to take on this problem.

If Maple Ridge council is willing to do so, then it needs to commit and move ahead, not waffle over election promises or getting re-elected, no matter who’s sitting in the gallery, or not.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News