Horgan says Maple Ridge’s approach to housing homeless ‘make believe’

City expects some better solution on the horizon: Horgan

As Maple Ridge’s mayor continues to be under fire for controversial comments made about the city’s homeless, Premier John Horgan didn’t pull punches while criticizing the city’s approach to housing the most vulnerable.

Horgan said during a news conference in Victoria Thursday that, where possible, there should municipal buy-in for supportive housing complexes that BC Housing wants to install in cities.

“But in the case of Maple Ridge, there’s a sense of make-believe, that somehow there’s a better solution on the horizon,” Horgan said.

“We’ve been grappling with this for two years, as the previous government did.”

Mayor Mike Morden said in a YouTube video last week that he sees Maple Ridge becoming “a hot spot in the Lower Mainland for people coming here to carry on doing drugs and basically raping and pillaging all of our community and our businesses and that’s got to stop.”

However, on Wednesday, he said those words were “an expression of frustration and probably weren’t appropriate.”

Coun. Kiersten Duncan has now asked Morden to apologize for the remarks, saying in a Tweet she’s “deeply concerned.

“I will be asking him to make a formal apology to council, residents, and the homeless residents he vilified,” Duncan added.

Morden continues to oppose B.C. Housing’s plans to build 51 temporary, low-barrier supportive housing units at 11749 Burnett St., on the same location rejected a year ago by the previous Maple Ridge council. He wants a facility that offers longer term mental health or drug treatment.

The online controversy is continuing with B.C. Housing releasing Facebook video vignettes about Maple Ridge residents who need housing.

Also Thursday, the B.C. Liberals called the province’s housing plan “botched,” and said Horgan is “forcing an unworkable plan onto Maple Ridge that doesn’t include enough mental health and addictions supports and is ignoring the huge rise in crime at a similar location the NDP forced upon Nanaimo.”

A YouTube Q and A info session about the Burnett Street supportive housing complex takes place next Monday at 7 p.m.

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