Maple Ridge may get modular housing for homeless camp residents

B.C.'s housing minister says the province and city are close to a solution to get housing for residents of a long-standing homeless camp in the Town Centre neighbourhood.

Past efforts to build homeless shelter in city fell apart in face of community opposition

A man walks through the Anita's Place homeless camp. B.C.'s housing minister says the province and city have been working on a solution for weeks and expects residents to have housing when winter sets in. (CBC News)

B.C.'s housing minister says the province and City of Maple Ridge are close to a solution on a long-standing homeless camp in the city's Town Centre neighbourhood.

The camp, dubbed Anita's Place, was erected on a vacant city lot near the intersection of St. Anne Avenue and 223 Street in the spring to protest the closure of a 40-bed shelter in the city. It has remained in place since then.

But its presence has drawn complaints from neighbours, who say they have concerns about crime, drug use, garbage and human waste.

"We are working together with the city. We are bringing in some considerable resources to make sure they have the supports that they need," Selina Robinson said at a scrum at the Legislature.

"On the modular housing we announced, the 2,000 units, that's the program we're working on with the city to address."

Shelter residents and their supporters set up the camp on city property without permission, in protest of the closure of a 40-bed low-barrier shelter. (Valerie Gamache/Radio-Canada)

Robinson says discussions between the province and city have been ongoing for weeks and there would be progress on the issue "shortly."

"We're confident that we'll be able to come to a resolution with the city and the residents to make sure people have a dry, safe place to stay as winter comes in."

The issue of homelessness in Maple Ridge has been a divisive one.

Community groups have organized protests against past efforts to house homeless people which have on some occasions turned confrontational.

Some members of those community groups have said they feel like their concerns about the negative impacts of homelessness on residents and businesses are being ignored.

A 2016 plan to convert a motel into a low-barrier homeless shelter was scuttled after strong community objections were heard.

Mayor Nicole Read has faced threats to her safety over her efforts to get a shelter built in the town.

In 2016, people in Maple Ridge took to the streets to protest a plan to convert a Quality Inn into a homeless shelter. (CBC)