The Multi-Agency Accommodation Project (MAAP) in Grand Forks remains a polarizing topic, especially amongst residents in the Riverside Drive area, where the project will be situated.
Stakeholders – the Boundary and Emergency Transition Housing Society (BETHS), Whispers of Hope and Habitat For Humanity Boundary – held an information session last Thursday, allowing people to learn more and get a tour of the 7212 Riverside Drive facility, which is under construction.
Area resident Bernie Draper has voiced his opposition to the project but understands there are some that need assistance.
“In my mind, there’s one thing that has to be done. We have to look after the mentally handicapped people; that’s the most important in my mind,” explained Draper. “Those who aren’t mentally handicapped, I think they should find a job. I see tonight’s paper, there are over a dozen jobs and nobody’s applying for them.”
Draper also said that he is for Habitat For Humanity Boundary and the services it offers but is concerned about the location of MAAP site and thinks that there is a potential for people to abuse the system.
“They want to get a place to live, so by the laws of British Columbia, they have an address they can apply for welfare because you can’t apply for welfare without a fixed address,” Draper explained. “They’ll be able to draw welfare and once they get welfare, then what’s going to happen? Will they follow up to see if they’re going to take a course in something and get a job?”
Bill Pepin, another Riverside area resident is concerned about troublemakers.
“They say it’s going to be a controlled area but what will they do about the non-well-doers that come around? Do they have a plan for that?” Pepin wondered.
“Is it going to be safe for me to walk to the recycling bins to put my recycling in there?” asked Lesley Draper. “Is it going to be safe for me to walk in the park? Am I going to have my husband with me or an armed bodyguard? Who knows?”
Above all, the three aren’t happy there wasn’t any consultation from the City of Grand Forks and stakeholders with residents in the area.
Not all area residents are against the project though, as witnessed by Jock and Betty Anne Mackay.
“We think it’s a great idea,” explained Betty Anne. “It’s going to get people off the street and out from under the bridges. It’s going to get that high visibility area by (Central Avenue) over here where it’s not seen so much. I think people are going to be more comfortable coming here.”
Jock said he isn’t concerned about safety either.
“I’m not in the last bit worried. We have two dogs,” he said.
“I think if there’s a positive place for them to be, there’ll be less need for them to take what isn’t there’s but we’ve been very lucky. People don’t bother us,” Betty Anne went on to say.
The MAAP project will see the three non-profit organizations housed under one roof with a thrift store and used building goods store next door.