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Temporary winter shelter closing in Maple Ridge, despite 20 people using it

Meetings underway to help the people still using the shelter
Major David MacPherson, executive director of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, is in meetings to discuss how the organization can assist individuals in the transition from cold, wet weather to warmer weather as the temporary winter shelter is set to close at the and of April. (Special to The News)

A temporary winter shelter in Maple Ridge will be closing at the end of April but there are still 20 people who use the facility every night.

A worry for the staff at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, who run the shelter, because, there is nowhere for them to go.

“It begs the larger question of there being a greater need than supply of year-round shelter beds in this community,” said the organization in a release to The News.

They say the leadership team at the charitable organization is in meetings now discussing how they can help the people who are still using the shelter.

The emergency shelter, which provides 55 year-round beds at the corner of Lougheed Highway and the Haney Bypass, is running at capacity and cannot expand because of health and safety regulations.

“The hope is that with further guidance from the provincial authorities, a solution can be found to keep as many people safe and warm as possible until the summer,” said the organization.

Last year the local Salvation Army was contracted by BC Housing to run the temporary winter shelter at the Ridge Church starting at the end of October until April 30, 2024.

READ ALSO: Registration starts Tuesday for Ridge Meadows Salvation Army summer camp

ALSO: Winter shelter to open next week in Maple Ridge

The Salvation Army will still open its doors at 10 a.m. every day as a community cooling/warming centre. But in the long term, they say, they are working with local and provincial authorities, including BC Housing and the City of Maple Ridge, on the development of a larger capacity, purpose-built facility. There are also talks underway to possibly extend the temporary winter shelter into a 30 bed, year-round, overnight shelter.

“We see the need for additional shelter bed, and we are always in conversation about how to best meet that need,” Amelia Norrie with the Salvation Army in Maple Ridge told The News.

The City of Maple Ridge confirmed they are in discussions with the province about the future of the Salvation Army facility.

However, the city noted, current supports that are available for those unhoused in the city include Community Safety Officers and outreach partners who are “actively engaged in supporting the annual closure of the temporary winter shelter at the end of this month.”

“We are sharing information with frontline housing outreach teams about any new trends amongst the population of people experiencing homelessness,” said the city.

In addition the Functional Assertive Situation Table, FAST, will identify people facing “acutely elevated” risk of becoming homeless and deliver services in a “coordinated and expedited manner.”

And the Community Resource HUB which will continue to host housing outreach workers and staff from the Ministry of Social Development and poverty Reductions to address housing needs, said the city.

The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882. Locally, the Ridge Meadows Ministries is a multi-function facility focused on providing the essential needs of food, shelter, and support to the residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Last year they provided: 27,061 daily school lunches to more than 250 students; 393 people with Christmas gifts; 278 families with baby and toddler essentials; more than 400 students with back-to-school supplies; 467 emergency food hampers; they sent 40 vulnerable children to summer camp at Camp Sunrise on the Sunshine Coast; provided 70,597 meals to families, seniors, and individuals through the Community Meal Program; and provided help to 27 individuals to find treatment/detox.

Anyone who needs support or is seeking shelter can reach out to the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries at 604-463-8296 ext. 102. For regional and provincial shelter updates, people can call 211.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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