Housing minister sets deadline for Maple Ridge mayor on supportive housing
As work continues to dismantle the Anita Place homeless camp in Maple Ridge, B.C.'s Housing Minister has given the city's mayor until the end of the week to work with the province on a comprehensive housing plan.
"That includes affordable housing for seniors and families. Let's move together on a whole range of affordable housing," said Selina Robinson in Victoria. "But it must include supportive housing for those that are most vulnerable."
Robinson says the province has approached the city with a number of supportive housing proposals in recent months but has encountered "road blocks" at city hall.
There is one temporary modular housing building in Maple Ridge but BC Housing had to put the 53-units on provincial land because the city didn't want it.
By comparison, the city of Vancouver and the province have built 600 units of supportive modular housing in the last 18 months.
"We want to bring more of that model to Maple Ridge. The city hasn't been comfortable with that and we know now that we have a situation where people are at greater risk because they have no safe place to be…and we need to get moving," said Robinson.
Robinson said if necessary, the province will move ahead alone if the city does not respond.
The issue flared in recent days when the city fenced off the camp and evicted people living there in order to address fire safety concerns.
On Monday, for the third day in a row, excavators moved around the site clearing tents and structures.
In the meantime, about 35 of the campers have moved to an extreme weather shelter run by the Salvation Army.
"There's probably at least a hundred people in town that unfortunately don't have any place to call home right now," said Darrell Pilgrim, the Salvation Army's local executive director.
Many people who live near the camp applaud the city's move to clean it up but some also sympathize with the people who have been kicked out.
"The city needs to do more. The city needs to do more. They've got to find more places," said one nearby resident who only identified herself as Gail.
CTV News has tried repeatedly over the last few weeks to get an interview with Mayor Mike Morden but he has repeatedly denied requests.
Monday city communications manager Fred Armstrong said Morden was unavailable and could not say when he would address the media.