Riekie Armstrong, with Protecting Maple Ridge, wants Royal Crescent, to be used for seniors housing. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

B.C. residents against housing for homeless camp out in protest

Campers want BC Housing to consult on temporary supportive housing

A new protest camp has been set up in Maple Ridge, this one on Royal Crescent, where B.C. Housing wants to build a 55-unit temporary modular housing complex to house the city’s homeless.

“We’re occupying the land in favour of seniors residences,” said Riekie Armstrong, with the Facebook group Protecting Maple Ridge.

A handful of protesters moved on to the site Thursday, hours after the old Mussallem house was hauled away to the Maple Ridge Cemetery, where it will serve as a caretaker’s house. Bylaws and police have both stopped by and are OK with the camp.

Armstrong opposes B.C. Housing’s plan to build the modular housing complex.

“We’re going to keep the place nice and clean. There won’t be any garbage.”

She added that Maple Ridge has housed many people.

“We’ve done enough.”

She said many seniors live in the area.

“This is no place for a campful of drug addicts.”

B.C. Housing intends to build modular homes and provide 24/7 supervision and will offer access to mental health and addiction treatment and life skills programs.

The modular home facility will be operated by Coast Mental Health, which also operates Alouette Heights, second stage housing in Maple Ridge.

Ahmed Yousef, with Burnett Street Neighbours, the group that opposes an 85-unit supportive housing complex and shelter proposed for at 11749 Burnett St., wants B.C. Housing to consult with the public before it starts construction of the temporary modular homes on Royal Crescent.

“We’re now here to occupy the space to ensure that the province goes through the … proper public consultation before moving ahead with anything else that will go into our city and our community,” Yousef said.

B.C. Housing wants the modular homes open by the fall so that the residents of the tent city can move in before winter. It held an open house in March, but isn’t seeking approval because of the urgent need of those in the tent city.

Anita Place Tent City, just south of Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge’s downtown, has been open for a year, just prioer to the 2017 provincial election.

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