Residents share anger over Maple Ridge temporary housing plans
After British Columbia's government announced that it is moving ahead with a project aimed at providing housing for those living at a controversial homeless camp in Maple Ridge, some residents are sharing their frustrations.
On Wednesday, the province announced it would build 51 "temporary supportive homes" at 11749 Burnett Street. The units will house 47 people – the same number BC Housing says is living at the "Anita Place" camp.
"Our goal is to quickly get people into housing where they can get the help and support they've long been needing, while working to close the camp in a managed way," Housing Minister Selina Robinson said in the statement.
"When we build housing for people who are homeless, the positive impacts don't end with the people being housed. The benefits extend into the community to the neighbours, businesses, first responders and everyone impacted by the camp."
Local residents are unhappy with the way they say the development has been forced on the neighbourhood.
"We're not part of the conversation at all" said Wesley Mann, the chairman of the Burnett Street Neighbours. "We're enraged. We've collected 10,000 signatures, hand-written signatures over last winter and we've been hanging onto them trying to get a meeting with our MLA since then and they refuse to see us or the petition."
Mann says he isn't opposed to more social housing in Maple Ridge, but he is upset with the way this has been handled by government.
"This is more about process now. This more about a provincial government unilaterally moving against a population without listening."
Kamloops-based Horizon North will build the homes, which will feature self-contained suites with washrooms and kitchenettes.
Coast Mental Health will operate the building, providing around-the-clock support for residents, and Fraser Health will provide clinical supports services for those who need it.
According to BC Housing, the project will take roughly five months to complete once construction starts in April.
In the meantime, Robinson has asked Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden and city council to work with BC Housing to work out how to best support those live at Anita Place.