UPDATE: Second homeless shelter reopening downtown Maple Ridge

Salvation Army will operate former Rain City facility during extreme weather

(THE NEWS/files) A second shelter facility in downtown Maple Ridge will offer 25 beds during extreme weather.

The temporary shelter facility on the Lougheed Highway in downtown Maple Ridge, formerly operated by RainCity Housing, is re-opening as additional spaces during extreme weather, a day after it snowed.

The 25 extra beds will be operated by the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, as an extension of its facilities across Lougheed Highway at the corner of the Haney Bypass.

The province announced Wednesday that it will temporarily expand the existing extreme weather response shelter, operated by the Salvation Army in Maple Ridge, by 25 beds as of tonight.

“This will ensure people living on the street have access to a safe, warm place to stay overnight during the winter,” said a release from Municipal Affairs and Housing.

The shelter will only be available when an extreme weather alert is issued and additional beds are needed.

Coun. Craig Speirs has been calling for the use of the building as either a shelter or emergency shelter, and lauded today’s announcement.

“It’s wonderful news – just think of the weather out there the past couple of days – imagine being on the street, being rained on and frozen,” he said.

And while people are in that situation, B.C. Housing is still paying the lease on the building until the end of March.

At the same time, the decision leaves council open to criticism, he said.

“We’ll catch nothing but hell about it on social media,” added Speirs. “Some people don’t want to bring addicted people out of the cold.”

He thinks some homeless people will not use a facility run by the Salvation Army because of “past interactions” involving clients using drugs.

However, he supported the choice of operator and said the Salvation Armu has changed its approach.

Coun. Tyler Shymkiw, however, said the decision by the province was made without consulting the community or council, and will frustrate businesses near the reopening space.

“The community is going to grow increasingly upset with the whole handling of this issue,” he said.

Shymkiw said the new NDP government has been indecisive in dealing with the issue of homelessness in Maple Ridge.

“It’s Dec. 20 and this is the first action they have taken on this issue. It’s breathtaking incompetence.”

He said the NDP has offered no solutions to the city.

“It’s frustrating for the whole community,” he added. “We are no closer to any permanent solution.”

Chris Bossley, an advocate for the people at Anita Place Tent City, said the cold weather shelter is a much needed addition, “just in time for Christmas.”

But she doesn’t expect “a mass exodus” from the homeless camp to the shelter right away, but said some individuals are likely to take advantage if they get cold on extreme weather nights.

Queried about how the camp residents have dealt with recent wintry weather, one of the men said “it builds character.”

They had some issues with the weight of snow collapsing tents and tarps, Bossley said, but were able to cope.

“They’re doing the best they can, and they have each other to lean on,” she added.

“They’re going to put up with anything. There may be the odd person who goes up there to spend the night, to get out of the cold.”

The Salvation Army will operate the additional spaces at the shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy., which formerly housed a 40-bed shelter run by RainCity Housing.

It closed in May, after several delays.

That shelter originally opened in fall of 2015 to clear the homeless camp on Cliff Avenue, which started that spring.

As the RainCity shelter was to close, Anita Place Tent City was erected at the south of 223rd Street, off the bypass.

The city sought a court injunction to clear the tent city, but has since backed off and is working with the operators of the camp, Alliance Against Displacement, to improve safety conditions there specifically with regards to in-tent heaters.

On Tuesday, Maple Ridge was hit with 10 centimetres of snow.

The extreme weather response program enables communities to temporarily increase emergency shelter capacity during extreme weather conditions, including when the temperature is approaching zero degrees.

Wind chill and precipitation are additional factors that may trigger an alert.

Communities determine when to issue an extreme weather alert, and how many spaces to make available on a given night.

The province also funds outreach teams that connect people experiencing homelessness with housing and support services.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boulders near Harrison vandalized with derogatory word

Vandalism likely occured between Sunday evening and Tuesday evening

Clothing charity returns to Chilliwack to hand out free goods

Clothes2U will be back at local church to give away clothing, household items, more to those in need

First rainstorm of the season pelting the Lower Mainland

Batten down the hatches as heavy rains, wind, and some localized flooding possible

Atchelitz Threshermen’s big garage sale in Chilliwack goes ahead this weekend

The annual fundraiser for the association was delayed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Return-It depots change beverage container deposits from 20 to 10 cents

Change will be implemented on Oct. 1, with a transition period being held until Oct. 11

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Young man assaulted, left for 12 hours until help called in Vancouver’s Strathcona Park

Vancouver police are looking to identify the victim as they investigate an assault on Monday evening

Most Read