Selina Robinson, B.C.’s housing minister, says moving forward on the housing file in Maple Ridge has been “frustrating,” describing the situation as an “urgent need.” And we heard that the media was unable to get a statement from Mayor Mike Morden in the last 7 days. While homeless people are even losing their tents in the cold winter.
The comments came Sunday as crews with bulldozers worked to clear structures from the former site of the Anita Place homeless camp, which was evacuated Saturday over fire safety risks.
‘We keep getting refused’
Selina Robinson says she still wants to be able to build more modular housing in Maple Ridge to help those displaced by the closure of the camp known as Anita Place.
“We keep getting refused … often by the city but sometimes the folks in the camp aren’t interested in working with us as well,” she said.
Robinson says she has spoken with Mayor Mike Morden about the type of housing the province wants to see built, but she said Morden doesn’t want modular housing at this point and favours housing built for a broader range of people in the community.
During the election Morden campaigned on prioritizing safety and dealing with drug use over building shelter in the homelessness crisis
“It’s really about moving forward on the projects that we have suggested and making sure that it works for the people who are in the camps, who find themselves without a place to go, without safe accommodation, without a place to lay your head at night,” said Housing Minister Selina Robinson at the opening of a modular housing project in Vancouver.
“We’ve come forward with a number of suggestions over the last number of months and we just keep hitting roadblocks.”
Robinson said some of the challenges have come from campers themselves but that the province has also run into issues in dealing with the city as well.
The province has already opened one modular housing project in the city, and Robinson said it has offered numerous other projects through B.C. Housing, including supportive modular housing, which have been turned down by Maple Ridge.
“Right now, [Mayor Mike Morden’s] response is he wants to build housing for a range of people in his community, and I agree that we need to do that,” she said.
“But we also absolutely need to build housing for people who are vulnerable in this community.”
Global News was unable to reach Morden on Sunday.
However, in a media release issued after Morden met with local MLAs and key members of cabinet on Feb. 25, he said the city was seeking $60 million from the province for social housing and to address costs associated with the Anita Place camp.
“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 Morden in the release.
Residents of the Anita Place campsite, meanwhile, have been moved to a temporary shelter on Lougheed Highway in the wake of the evacuation.
The order came after three fires struck the camp in a 48-hour period, a series of events some homeless residents claimed was the work of arsonists.
Activist group Alliance Against Displacement, which frequently speaks for the camp, has organized a rally in support of Anita Place for Tuesday at 4 p.m.