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 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

Google Maps screenshot taken at 6:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Westbound dump-truck crash on Highway 1

Crash occurred around 6:45 a.m., west of 232nd Street in Langley

Email your cooking questions to Chef Dez at dez@chefdez.com.
ON COOKING: Mulligatawny is tough to spell but a tasty soup

Chef Dez offers up his version of a classic soup

The W.C. Blair Pool will re-open Thursday for time-limited appointment-only swim sessions. (Langley Advance Times files)
Swims at W.C. Blair Pool back, but by appointment only

Most other group exercise has been closed due to pandemic restrictions

Joel Goddard and Susie Fletcher are parents of a baby son. Joel hasn’t been seen since Nov. 10. (Missing Joel Goddard Facebook page)
Family and friends continue searching for missing Langley father

Helicopters, drones and foot searches planned in the coming days

Assistant fire chief Dale Steeple, deputy fire chief Darren Lee, and assistant fire chief Andy Hewitson are the Township’s latest hires in leadership roles. (Bruce Ferguson/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Township fire welcomes new members to leadership roles

Department hired two assistant fire chiefs and deputy fire chief

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

File photo
Surrey RCMP investigating death threat against Surrey councillor

‘On Monday morning I received a threat on messenger that basically said to put a bullet in me,’ Councillor Jack Hundial told the Now-Leader

Most Read