The City of Maple Ridge is looking to gather the region’s mayors to develop a regional position on homelessness in a bid to do together what none of them has managed alone.
The Fraser Valley city is no stranger to homeless issues. Last year it grappled first with a tent city, then with tensions that grew around the temporary shelter on Lougheed designed to defuse the encampment.
Now, it’s calling for a regional mayors’ summit to tackle the problem.
Councillor Bob Masse says the city has applied for provincial funding to hold the event, which would aim to develop a regional position on the issue and take a deep dive into problems like mental illness and addiction at the root of the crisis.
“The only communities that have had success with this are those that have approached it on a regional basis.”
Masse says that fact has been hammered in by the failures of the big cities, like Vancouver, to tackle the problem despite high profile initiatives.
“The numbers revealed that there was a slight increase in street entrenched homelessness after massive efforts and massive financial investment.”
Masse says about half a dozen mayors have already written to Maple Ridge mayor Nicole Read supporting the idea.
He says if the mayors can hammer out a strategy, the region will also be more effective when taking their demands upstairs.
“If we can get together we can come to much better strategies and much better utilization of resources, effective lobbying of the federal and provincial governments to step up and do what they need to do and haven’t been doing, so we’re ending up having to deal with this as individual communities.”
Last month, Maple Ridge granted its temporary shelter another nine months, while it works on modular interim housing that will ease tensions around the facility.
In the longer term, it’s working with $15-million in provincial cash to build a permanent shelter.