News Views: Place to stay

Maple Ridge is not the only city in the Lower Mainland with a homeless population

Members of Maple Ridge council toured the 3030 Gordon supportive housing complex in Coquitlam last week. And to no one’s surprise, we hear that no one wanted such a facility there, either.

It’s been open for close to a year now, and has been constantly full – 124 residents have been through the two stages of housing it offers, as of the end of July.

Like the temporary homeless shelter in Maple Ridge, and the purpose-built facility proposed here, 3030 Gordon is a low-barrier facility. That means what residents do in their rooms is their own business. Yes, drugs.

Residents and businesses around 3030 Gordon are quick to tell how the neighborhood has deteriorated since the facility opened, not far from a daycare. They complain about drug use, vandalism and defecation.

A public hearing about the facility went on for hours. And despite much opposition, it was still constructed.

Why? Because it’s needed, as is one in Maple Ridge.

As stated before, the deterioration of downtown Maple Ridge began long before RainCity Housing, which also operates 3030 Gordon, opened a temporary, low-barrier homeless shelter on Lougheed Highway. It started long before Nicole Read was mayor, even before the Salvation Army opened its homeless shelter at the corner of the Haney Bypass.

B.C. Housing is offering $15 million to build a facility similar to 3030 Gordon along the highway in Maple Ridge, backing on to the cemetery. It will even place mobile units on the site until a new building is complete.

It is not offering to build such a facility far from the downtown, or relocate all those at the homeless shelter to 3030 Gordon, or Riverview.

Maple Ridge is not the only city in the Lower Mainland with a homeless population.

It is the province’s plan to build facilities in communities with such problems, to help the many who struggle with drug addiction or mental illness, or both.

Once again, issues associated with homelessness will not be solved with rhetoric about ‘zero tolerance,’ or mandatory drug testing, or working farms located away from everybody and everything.

People are literally dying on the streets, mostly related to fentanyl.  There were three reported overdoses in Maple Ridge on Monday alone.

Medical treatment and support, we’re told, are key, and would be part a new housing facility, a place where clients would want to stay, to get them off the streets.

The situation in downtown Maple Ridge has existed for more than a decade and will not get better if nothing else is done. And, as the courts have ruled, it is incumbent for cities to provide the homeless a place to stay.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News