The provincial government has announced funding for new housing options and support programs designed to address the issue of homelessness in Maple Ridge.
The province said it is investing around $3.6 million to purchase property in the 11000-block of Burnett St. for a proposed project that would include approximately 40 new supportive housing units and relocation of up to 40 shelter beds.
The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries will move its shelter, currently located at 22188 Lougheed Highway, to the new site.
“I think it’s really important to recognize that we have to be working together with the communities and we’re committed to doing that, to make sure the people who are challenged have the resources that they need,” Housing Minister Selina Robinson said Wednesday.
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The province has also allocated around $15 million to an affordable rental housing project being discussed with the City of Maple Ridge. The project, which would be located on city-owned property at 21375 Lougheed Hwy, would provide housing for families and seniors
A new modular housing project is also in the works to house the homeless, including those at the St. Anne homeless camp.
“People need housing and they need a range of housing, and our comprehensive approach is going to address all of those needs,” Robinson said.
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In addition to efforts to boost housing, the province said it will increase support for mental health and addictions care in Maple Ridge through the Intensive Case Management Team.
That body “focuses on providing each person with the mental health and addictions and social supports they need on their journey to recovery,” according to Minister for Mental Health and Addiction Judy Darcy said in a statement.
“This is an example of how we are working across government and with partners across sectors to build a more seamless, coordinated mental health and addictions system in B.C. so people can ask once and get help fast.”
Pressure has been building around homelessness issue in Maple Ridge for several years, including a recent battle over the Anita’s Place homeless camp.
Campers were forced out of a tent city on Cliff Avenue in 2015, and there were subsequent heated public meetings over the establishment of a temporary shelter.
BC Housing also proposed a pair of locations to provide supportive housing for the homeless, one in a former Quality Inn, but both were dropped by the BC Liberal government in 2016 amid public opposition.
Early last year, Mayor Nicole Read took a leave of absence from council after she received personal threats believed to be linked to the controversy over the city’s homeless population.
— With files from Estefania Duran, Jeremy Lye and Simon Little