Vancouver council backs controversial Kitsilano social housing development

Thirteen-Story BC Housing Project at Arbutus and 7th Avenue Will Provide Permanent Shelter for 129 Homeless


The Vancouver City Council has approved the rezoning of the second of five BC housing developments in the city that will create 424 suites for homeless singles.

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On Tuesday night, the council voted to rezone a city-owned site on Arbutus Street in Kitsilano between 7th and 8th Avenues (next to the planned Arbutus Metro Station) to allow for a 13-story building with 129 housing units. social housing for one person offering mental health services. health and other supports. The project will be managed by the MPA Society, a long-standing nonprofit agency with 220 full-time employees.

Each unit will have a kitchen and bathroom and occupants will have security of tenure, said City of Vancouver Housing and Homeless Services Director Celine Mauboules. She said 99 percent of the estimated 250 people living in tarmac/tent structures along Hastings Street right now would jump at the chance to occupy one of these units.

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Last week, a community group called The Kitsilano Coalition called on the City of Vancouver and BC Housing to reassess the Arbutus social housing project after former housing minister David Eby fired BC Housing’s board of directors. They were fired because it was discovered that the agency sometimes awards multi-million dollar contracts without a rigorous process to ensure the best supplier is chosen.

Some neighbors were concerned about the impact the new development would have on the safety of the area, fearful of a situation similar to that which occurred when the 147-unit Marguerite Ford low-income housing project opened in the 200 block of West 2nd Avenue and generated more than 700 calls to the police. in 18 months The development is also across the street from an elementary school.

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Count Colleen Hardwick, who is running for mayor in the October municipal elections, was the strongest advocate for those neighbors and voted against the project. Councilmembers Melissa De Genova and Sarah Kirby-Yung also opposed the project.

Earl Adriane Carr, who backed the bill, pointed out that former Mayor Gregor Robertson had promised to end homelessness by 2015 and that was a false promise with homelessness in the city “worse than ever.”

Count Lisa Dominato said the community consultation process for the project was lacking, but that the MPA Society had a good reputation and would work to create a good mix of tenants.

The project was endorsed by the rest of the council and Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

Part of the council’s approval was for the MPA Society and BC Housing to create a Community Advisory Team to listen to any concerns once the project is up and running, install a pedestrian-controlled flasher at 7th and Arbutus, and for the project to consider offering more than just single person occupancy in the units.

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The other BC housing project that has been approved is in the 1400 block of East King Edward Avenue. This will be a 14-story, 109-unit building operated by the Vancouver Native Housing Society.

The three projects that have not yet received rezoning approval to go forward are a planned six-story building at 2930 Renfrew Street offering 50 individual units operated by the Lu’ma Native Housing Society, a six-story, 64-unit development in the 2500-block of South Grandview Highway managed by Community Builders and a project of 72 individual six-story units at 1925 Southeast Marine Drive operated by The Kettle Society.

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