Students in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District will become the first to get team support, or so-called wraparound care, for those with mental health and addiction challenges.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says the integrated teams will work with schools and specialized service providers to offer complete care to students and their families.
Last month, the government announced its 10-year Pathway to Hope program aimed at helping and supporting young people with mental health and addiction challenges.
Darcy says the government has committed $2.5 billion for mental health and addiction services, and that includes $10 million in grants to non-profit groups to offer affordable counselling to youth and families.
The government said the teams will work with those experiencing challenges and their families won’t have to retell their stories to different care providers or search on their own for the supports they need.
Darcy says the new mental health and addiction services model will be implemented in the district by this 2019.
“It is very striking that with all the diversity of perspective and the diversity of experience, there was so much clarity on the way to go,” says Darcy, who made the announcement a Maple Ridge elementary school.
“The Pathway to Hope focuses on our most urgent priorities first, so that we’re helping people when they need it now and reducing demand on services down the road.”
After the government’s program announcement in June, a B.C. coroner’s jury examining the overdose death of 16-year-old Victoria-area youth Elliot Eurchuk called on government to improve early detection of mental health and substance use disorders within schools.
Tammy Gadsby credits medical marijuana for ending her use of serious pharmaceuticals that included a tranquilizer and an opioid.
With marijuana, the 60-year-old Maple Ridge resident said she has been able to better manage her fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety and PTSD than with any other drugs she has tried. Inhaling marijuana produces nearly immediate relief and also helps keep up her appetite, she said.
But smoking the drug now has Gadsby afoul of a recently passed strata bylaw in her condominium development that she said prohibits any smoking or vaping of any substance anywhere on the property. Many strata councils around B.C. have adopted similar bylaws late last year in anticipation of the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Gadsby said her strata has not granted her an exception to the rule, even though she says she holds a family physician-provided prescription and has been a medical marijuana user since 2015. And for Gadsby, it’s a serious enough matter that she said she plans to take it to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
“I gave up three prescription medications and just use medical cannabis now,” Gadsby said. “This is the best thing I’ve ever found to deal with all the different issues that I do deal with.”
Grant Inglis, the head of the strata council, said the council — through its lawyer — had requested additional information from Gadsby so that it could make a fair and informed decision about her request for an exemption from the bylaw on medical grounds. To date that information had not been received, he said.
Earlier this month, Eric Mollema, a lawyer representing the strata, sent a letter to a lawyer for Gadsby stating that the strata corporation was obliged to consider exempting her from the bylaw, but that it did require documents first.
That included written confirmation from a board-certified medical practitioner that Gadsby had a marijuana prescription and that detailed her medical conditions, explained why “traditional medicines” are contraindicative to those conditions and stated why smoking marijuana is the preferred dosing method.
Mollema said he could not comment on the ongoing matter.
For Gadsby, asking for that extent of personal medical information goes too far.
“It goes to a strata. These people are not a medical panel by any means … they are individuals that live in the strata. And you want me to provide you with all of my medical background?”
Paul Mendes, a lawyer who mainly represents strata corporations but who has also represented individual owners, said he could not speak to the specifics of the case. But he said conflicts over no-smoking bylaws can turn into human rights issues.
“For this to be a human rights issue, the owner has to establish that she has a disability. And once she satisfies the strata that she has a disability, the strata then has a duty to accommodate her disability to the point of an undue hardship on the strata.”
In the case of marijuana smoking, the main problem tends to be smell, Mendes said. One thing the strata can consider in such cases is asking an owner to consider vaping or taking edibles rather than smoking combustibles. But if a strata takes the position that there is no way to accommodate, “then it is really a human rights matter,” he said.
What the Human Rights Tribunal would look at is whether the bylaw adversely affects the property owner’s disability. If they have evidence they use medical marijuana for that disability, it would be hard to argue that a zero tolerance policy does not adversely affect them, Mendes said.
“It’s not a slam dunk for either side on this. It’s really going to depend on the evidence,” he said.
Many of the dozens of residents were moved to a temporary shelter on Lougheed Highway.
In a news release Monday afternoon, the City of Maple Ridge said 35 propane tanks and 800 cubic metres of fire-related debris have since been removed.
It’s also developed a safety plan, including a site perimeter and 24-hour security. New people who arrive will be prohibited from moving in.
Emergency officials carried out an evacuation order at the Anita Place homeless camp March 2, following a series of fires at the site. (Megan Batchelor / CBC)
“The city has erected a perimeter all around the camp with only one access point and they have bylaw security guards and RCMP staffing the gate at the checkpoint,” said Ivan Drury, advocate with the group, Alliance Against Displacement.
“They’re only allowing access to people who they say were verified as official occupants of the camp, back during registration over two days in late February.”
The city confirms only verified camp residents, their legal counsel and government outreach workers will now be allowed to access the site.
Verification process criticized
Lawyers representing the homeless campers are also questioning the registration process.
“That process was extremely barrier-filled and had several problems with it,” said Caitlin Shane with Pivot Legal Society. “There were a number of people who didn’t get identified despite wanting to get identified.”
The city said the verification measure will ensure registered occupants have applied for housing services.
But Shane argued the city didn’t give everyone the proper opportunity to identify themselves.
“The camp was entirely shut down for a large period of the second day [of February] so that no one was allowed on site during which time the city was supposed to be identifying people but was not.”
Sandi Orr is one of dozens of homeless people who’ve been living at Anita Place for more than a year. (Rohit Joseph/CBC)
The city said the size of the encampment will continue to shrink as verified occupants are connected with support services.
In the meantime, no new construction materials or solid structures will be allowed on the site. All propane, gasoline, aerosol paint cans and other ignition sources are also banned.
B.C. Housing is in the process of restoring power to the washroom and shower facility and is installing a heating system for the warming tent.
A Maple Ridge tent city has reopened, but on strict terms dictated by the city’s mayor Mike Morden.
The Anita Place homeless camp was established off Lougheed Highway at the corner of St. Anne Avenue and 223rd Street in May, 2017, and has been home to up to 200 people.
Late last month, firefighters entered the site, using a Supreme Court of B.C. order that allowed them to check on fire safety. They found multiple safety issues at the site, culminating in the arrest of six people who were blocking firefighters from accessing a wooden structure. The site was evacuated on March 2.
John Newton, 28, is seen behind police tape in Maple Ridge, B.C., on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Newton says he was the last resident to leave the “Anita Place” homeless camp in Maple Ridge, B.C., when police and firefighters enforced an evacuation order Saturday and cordoned off the area.
Amy Smart /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Morden said firefighters and bylaw officers had done an “extraordinary job making this site safe for camp occupants and the surrounding neighbourhood.”
He said a plan was now in place to allow occupants to return to the site.
However, there were several conditions, the first being all residents have to “verified” by the city. The perimeter of the site has also been secured and there will be 24-hour security on site and no one gets in unless they are verified occupants, or legal aids or B.C. Housing staff.
Morden said any “new arrivals” would be barred from the site, there would be regular inspections and no propane, gasoline, paints cans or accelerants would be allowed.
He said the city’s goal was to have all the verified residents transferred to B.C. Housing provided accommodation. As people got new homes and left the camp they would not be replaced by newly verified residents.
Maple Ridge city officials with local fire and RCMP moved in to dismantle Anitas Place homeless camp in Maple Ridge, BC Saturday, March 2, 2019. Concerns over the use of propane cooking stoves and heaters in tents prompted the action.
Jason Payne /
He added that B.C. Housing was in the process of restoring power to the washroom and shower facility and installing the heating system for the warming tent.
The Pivot Legal Society, which is representing tent city occupants, wrote on Twitter that the city’s verification process was flawed. They claimed the city had no legal basis to refuse non-verified people access to the site.
A man from Maple Ridge, B.C. has shared video of a hair-raising encounter he had with a cougar over the weekend.
Kevyn Helmer said he locked his own cat in the bathroom after finding the apex predator hanging out on his deck on 287th Street Sunday afternoon.
“There’s a big, scary kitty cat out front,” Helmer says in a Facebook video. “My cat’s in the washroom, he’s meowing away.”
The video shows the cougar lounging right beside the door, barely paying attention as Helmer watches through the glass for several minutes.
“The road is right up there, so if anybody comes walking by – oh, man,” Helmer says. “I hope no kids or nobody walking their dog goes by the front gate there.”
The nervous resident called authorities to the home and they apparently managed to chase the cougar away without incident.
“He’s a big, nice kitty I’m sure they’ll take care of it,” Helmer says in a follow-up video.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has not responded to a request for comment on what happened.
According to WildSafeBC, anyone who encounters a cougar outdoors is advised to keep calm, appear as big as possible and back away slowly while keeping the cougar in view.
“If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively in all cases as cougars see you as a meal: keep eye contact, yell and make loud noises. Pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to quickly to use as a weapon if necessary,” the organization says on its website.
In the event of an attack, WildSafeBC recommends focusing on the cougar’s face and eyes.
Anyone who sees a cougar that could pose an immediate threat to public safety is asked to call conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277.
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