Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden has asked the provincial government to invest $60 million for social housing and to assist with the costs associated with Anita Place Tent City.
Morden met with a number of provincial ministers on Feb. 25 to discuss the impacts of housing affordability, the increasing frequency of ‘renovictions’ and the availability of affordable housing for seniors and those dealing with poverty. He also discussed operational models, accountability of operators and the community impacts for facilities that are addressing the housing needs of those with addictions and mental health challenges in the community.
“While this is a large list of topics, they are interconnected. I got the sense that there is a broad understanding that we all need to work across jurisdictions to identify the problems, assess and enact solutions and ensure that we all understand our roles and responsibilities,” said Mayor Morden who also thanked local MLAs, Minister Lisa Beare and Bob D’Eith.
Residents of Anita Place were moved out of the camp on March 1 after an evacuation order was issued by the Provincial Fire Commissioner following an application by Maple Ridge fire chief Howard Exner.
The site is currently closed, with security personnel stationed at the site 24 hours a day supported by the Ridge Meadows RCMP.
Accommodations and meals for evacuees from the camp were provided by the City of Maple Ridge’s Emergency Support Services team that opened a reception centre on Lougheed Highway east of 222 Avenue, at noon on Saturday.
Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said the province wants to make sure that everyone who has been evacuated can access shelter, food and health and social services.
“In the longer term, this reinforces the need to act quickly and build more supportive housing in Maple Ridge,” she said noting that dozens of former Anita Place campers have homes and can access support services in modular housing opened several months ago.
Morden asked the province to look into the difficulty that local governments have in getting accurate information on people who are receiving services in the community and what the outcomes are as they move through the network of services and front line organizations. His hope is that by addressing reporting and data collection gaps across ministerial portfolios there can be better coordination and improvement in outcomes for those who are dealing with multiple health issues and housing challenges.
Those who attended the meeting included:
· Honourable Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health & Addictions
· Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health
· Honourable Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing
· Honourable Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development & Poverty Reduction
· Honorable Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism MLA Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows
· Mr. Bob D’Eith MLA Maple Ridge – Mission
· Mr. Shane Ramsay, CEO of BC Housing
· Michael Morden, Mayor City of Maple Ridge
· Kelly Swift, Acting CAO City of Maple Ridge