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Protest over proposed homeless housing in Maple Ridge
More than one hundred protestors angry over a proposed supportive housing complex and homeless shelter showed up at a rally in Maple Ridge Saturday.
Demonstrators said the province is keeping them in the dark about how the facility will operate.
"My biggest concern is the possibility 40 beds are going to be low-barrier, meaning they're not going to follow any kind of guidelines with drug use,” said Jessica Flynn, one of the speakers at the gathering near Maple Ridge City Hall.
BC Housing has released few details so far, only saying it has purchased a pair of vacant lots on Burnett Street and wants to build 40 supportive housing units alongside a 40 bed shelter.
The site is a few blocks from Golden Ears Elementary School and just down the street from Legion House, a seniors home.
"I know we can do better for our community, our seniors and our students to not have to be subjected to this on a daily basis,” said Flynn.
Maple Ridge has a substantial homeless population. The 2017 homeless count pegged the number of people sleeping on the street or in shelters in Ridge Meadows at 124. Advocates say that estimate is likely conservative.
Dozens of people currently live in a tent city near the Haney Bypass.
"This place, we are the family of humanity. That's what we call ourselves,” said Tracy Scott who lives in the camp.
She says 80 additional beds is a good start but won’t get everybody off the street.
"It covers maybe, maybe half the people in here."
Scott takes issue with some of the concerns raised by people at the rally, saying not all homeless people are drug addicts and criminals.
She says they’re also residents of Maple Ridge and as community members they should have an equal voice.
"We're not good enough anymore? We don't have those rights? Bull. We have just as equal rights as anybody else,” said Scott.
Mayor Nicole Read says BC Housing hasn’t filled her in on all the details of the plan for the Burnett Street site but she hopes to find out more at an information session later this month.