Update: March 18, 2016
March 14, 2014 Workshop Discussion on Supportive Housing Proposal
At the Monday, March 14, 2016 Workshop meeting Ted Swabey, CAO made a presentation to Council outlining the timeline relating to the BC Housing proposal to purchase the Quality Inn and to convert it into a supportive housing facility.
Council was concerned because of comments made on social media by MLA Doug Bing that indicated that he was not supportive of the Quality Inn location. Council was concerned that the local MLAs were not on board with the Provincial Government’s plan and this was creating uncertainty in the community.
Council passed a motion at the Monday, March 14 Workshop that a letter be sent to Minister Rich Coleman asking for clarity because the extension of the interim shelter and the supportive housing proposal for the Quality Inn are provincial initiatives. Here is a link to the meeting video.
The Minister’s Response Received on Wednesday, March 16, 2016
On Wednesday, March 16, 2016 Minister Rich Coleman sent a response to Council reiterating his support for the BC Housing proposal to extend the temporary shelter for three months and to purchase and renovate the Quality Inn to create supportive housing. Here is a copy of the letter.
Special Council Meeting, Wednesday, March 16, 2016
On Wednesday, March 16, Maple Ridge Council held a Special Council Meeting to follow up on the resolution passed at the Monday, March 14 Workshop meeting requesting clarification of the position of the Minister and local MLAs relating to the proposed purchase of the Quality Inn for a supportive housing project.
The formal reply from the Minister was received on Wednesday and Council called a special meeting, on short notice, to discuss the letter. The letter reaffirmed the Minister’s commitment that the Quality Inn location is the best location.
In his letter Minister Coleman says, “We have committed to a public information session where RainCity Housing and BC Housing can respond to the community on the operational aspects of the Quality Inn.” The letter did not include any comments relating to the local MLAs’ position on the Province’s offer relating to the Quality Inn supportive housing proposal.
Council discussed the response and passed the following motions:
“That before proceeding further with its proposal to provide supportive housing in Maple Ridge, the Provincial Government commit to including in its public forum, information about the design and operations of the facility, and an opportunity for the public to ask questions and receive answers.”
“That before proceeding further with its proposal to provide supportive housing in Maple Ridge, the Provincial Government confirm that MLA Doug Bing and MLA Marc Dalton are supportive of the Quality Inn location.”
The first motion was in response to concerns that were expressed by the community that the proposed information session would be an ‘open house’ format rather than a question and answer format. The second motion seeks to get a formal position from each of the local MLAs relating to the proposed supportive housing project from BC Housing.
After the motions were passed, Council opened the floor for questions and for the next three hours heard questions and comments from the public. Council heard comments relating to the impacts of locating the supportive housing facility at the Quality Inn location including specific concerns on issues such as:
- The lack of consultation with residents and local businesses.
- The security and safety of the neighbourhood.
- The operational model of the facility.
- The number of beds proposed versus the current number of people needing housing.
- The health care supports that would be provided at the facility.
- The impact of losing the hotel rooms to the local economy.
- The impact on those currently employed at the Quality Inn and attached restaurant.
- Concerns that the facility would attract people from other regions to Maple Ridge.
- The process going forward.
Why Was the Notice so Short for the March 16, 2016 Special Meeting?
Council deemed it important to discuss the content of the Minister’s letter and their response in a public forum. The Community Charter provides Council with the opportunity to waive notice if all Council members agree. Once all Council members’ attendance was confirmed the announcement of the meeting was spread widely using social media in forums where this issue has been discussed.
The only agenda item was discussion on the response from Minister Coleman, however, Council took this opportunity to provide a Question Period which lasted over two hours due to the large number of people who had taken the time to attend the meeting and ask questions.
Was the March 16, 2016 Special Meeting recorded?
Yes. The meeting was recorded and the video can be found here.
Why are Decisions Related to the Purchase of the Quality Inn and Extension of the Interim Shelter Being Made in Closed meetings?
On February 29, 2016 Council held a Closed Meeting at the request of BC Housing. At this meeting Council saw the proposal to extend the temporary shelter, purchase the Quality Inn and renovate the building to create a supportive housing facility for the first time. BC Housing made the request to hear the item in Closed due to the potential purchase of a property.
By way of background, the February 29 meeting was held pursuant to Sections 90 (1) of the Community Charter as follows:
- The acquisition of land and improvements that council considers might reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality if disclosed.
- A matter that, under another enactment, is such that the public may be excluded from the meeting.
“The motion made at the February 29, 2016 Special Closed Council Meeting on the extension of the temporary shelter be released after the BC Housing press released is issued.”
On March 7, 2016 BC Housing appeared for a second time before Council in a Closed Meeting with clarifications on their proposal. In response, Council passed the following motions;
“That staff work with BC Housing to develop a draft Memorandum of Understanding, for finalization after a public forum, on a congregate model of supportive housing at the Quality Inn location plus a purpose built supportive housing facility at the site provided by the City of Maple Ridge and that the Province undertake a public forum prior to March 31, 2016.”
Once BC Housing made the media release on Thursday, March 10, 2016 the Council motions made in Closed were released to the public.
In summary, Council first heard the proposal on February 29, 2016 in a Closed Meeting. On March 7, 2016 a second Closed meeting was held to review new information on the proposal. Three days later the official news release from the BC Government triggered the release of the Council motions from the Closed Meetings. The matter came before the public in less than 10 days from Council first hearing the offer from BC Housing.
Here is a link to the media release that was sent out on Thursday, March 17, 2016 summarizing Council’s decisions from the March 16, 2016 Special Meeting.