Growing Resilience in Maple Ridge

Representatives from the City of Maple Ridge shared their experience of responding to a homeless camp through the development of the Maple Ridge Resilience Initiative at the Large Urban Forum on Tuesday.

Delegates were presented with the story of the City’s response to a homeless camp. Similar to other municipalities, Maple Ridge faced significant public outcry, considerable safety issues within the camp and the complex challenge of working with people with physical health, mental health and addiction issues.

Municipal staff formed four teams to build trust and community partnerships and to form an approach to homelessness that attempted to span both response and prevention. The panel highlighted two foundations of this approach: an immediate focus on safety – for campers, first responders and the public – and the need for consistent, timely information sharing.

By getting to know the individual campers and undertaking a thoughtful, supported approach to decampment, the homeless camp was emptied voluntarily and without the need for an injunction.

Today, nearly a year later, 40 people remain in a temporary shelter and Maple Ridge is navigating the new challenge of establishing a permanent homeless shelter. The Resilience Initiative continues, and the community partnerships that initially formed in response to the camp are looking towards the systemic issues that have contributed to the crisis of chronic homelessness.

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