Homeless housing complex approved for Olympic Village
Published Monday, April 9, 2018 6:36PM PDT
A temporary housing complex meant to bring some of Vancouver's most vulnerable residents in off the street has been approved for Olympic Village.
The city announced Monday that its development permit for 52 modular units was approved by the planning department for the lots at 595 and 599 West 2nd Ave. The adjacent plots of land are located near the SkyTrain station.
"The development will provide safe and stable housing for individuals who are presently homeless, with the priority being homeless people living in the local neighbourhood," the city said.
Each of the units in the new building constructed by Horizon North will be 320 square feet. They will contain a kitchenette, bathroom and combined sleeping and living area. Six units will be wheelchair accessible.
The three-storey building will also have communal spaces including a larger kitchen, laundry room and meeting rooms.
Its non-profit operator will provide support services to tenants 24 hours a day. Those living in the complex will also be able to take part in life skills training, volunteer work and employment preparation programs.
Prior to the project's approval, the city hosted two information sessions with about 280 people in attendance. It also consulted with organizations in the neighbourhood including a nearby elementary school parent advisory committee and the Vancouver police.
During the consultation phase, the majority of comments submitted through cards and email were about the perceived negative impacts of homeless residents in the area and about the manner in which tenants will be selected.
Residents were also concerned about a lack of lighting, improvements to a pedestrian walkway in the area and proximity to a future skate park.
While making the decision, the city's planning director took the feedback into account and set a number of conditions of approval. One of the conditions is that a committee will be formed so that information is continually shared and a dialogue remains open.
Construction will begin mid-month, and the building is expected to open in August.
It will be made of easily-built modules that can be relocated and reconfigured to fit a range of sites. The city plans to use each of its modular housing complexes for a period of about five years, with the option of extending their use if needed.
The Olympic Village project is one of several similar modular residences approved by the city recently. Development permits have been approved for 4480 Kaslo St., 525 Powell St., 1131 Franklin St. and 650 West 57th Ave.
A modular housing building already stands at 220 Terminal Ave., approved by the city and built in 2016. Vancouver is also considering building a 50-unit housing complex at East 37th Avenue near Main Street.
Some of the projects have been met with opposition and even violence.
Tensions rose in December as the deadline to vacate the Franklin Street property approached, and a passerby got into a scuffle with a resident at a homeless camp following a news conference.
The project on West 57th Avenue was so controversial that the city had to seek an injunction to order protesters off the lot, and security was brought in during a public information session for the Kaslo Street site.