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Controversial social housing development in Kitsilano approved by Vancouver council

Vancouver city council approved a controversial social housing development for Kitsilano Tuesday night.

The vote came after marathon public hearings where nearly 300 residents who were divided over the project spoke.

The 13-storey building at Arbutus Street and West 7th Avenue will provide permanent shelter for 129 people.

"This project proposes to deliver critical affordable homes for adults who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness or displacement from low-income housing, as well as for residents who may be working and earning very-low incomes," says a city staff report describing the project.

"Approximately half of the units would be operated as supportive housing with on-site and embedded support services for residents and the other half will be deeply affordable social housing for residents who are ready and able to live more independently."

Some local residents were vocal in opposing the project, arguing congregate housing isn't the solution for those experiencing homelessness or living with addiction.

Other critiques shared with council include its proximity to a school, a perceived lack of consultation, concerns that the project does not offer spaces for families, the prospects that the supportive units will go to tenants will use drugs or have mental health concerns, and the scale of the building. 

Those in support said the type of housing is needed in all areas of the city, particularly in light of the overlapping crises of housing affordability and toxic drug deaths.

Three councillors – Colleen Hardwick, Melissa De Genova and Sarah Kirby-Yung – voted against the project. The rest of council and the mayor supported it.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Lisa Steacy Top Stories

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