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Social Housing Should Not Mean Substandard Housing in Vancouver

This petition had 79 supporters

With recent headlines echoing our own experience with problematic building management in the area*, we acutely feel the need to take an active role in working with the City to honour the spirit of the recently approved Local Area Plan (DTES LAP) which aims “to make the DTES a more livable, safe and supportive place for all of its diverse residents, in other words, a healthy neighbourhood for all.” - [DTES LAP].

Affordable, supportive housing for families is desperately needed in Strathcona. Social housing tends to be judged as being better than having people live in tents. We don’t believe that is good enough. While development costs must be considered in project designs, social housing should not be exempted from general City building guidelines.

Of current concern is an Atira proposal for a 7-storey, 21-unit social housing building for women with children, across the lane from the Ukrainian Hall at 420 Hawks Avenue:

  • The proposed site is unsafe, especially for children, contravening the City’s High Density Housing Guidelines for Families with Children (HDHGFC), the Healthy City Strategy (HCS), and the DTES LAP. The site is adjacent to the Rice Block, the source of ongoing neighbourhood safety issues involving regular solicitation, violent incidents, drug use and debris.
  • No laundry facilities on site, nor within reasonable walking distance, violating the HDHGFC.
  • The two limited outdoor areas feature only garden plots and/or concrete planters, no grassed play areas, contravening the HDHGFC. Questionable whether rooftop space is safe for children.
  • Proposed design calls for bike racks and lockers, but no parking. No storage space for strollers. Storage lockers in the basement are planned for only some of the units, despite units measuring between 260 and 460 sq ft, and offering no closet space in the 2nd bedroom.
  • The HDHGFC mandates that each household have a private outdoor open space adjacent to its unit. This is completely lacking in the proposed development.
  • Proposed design does not fit the character, style, or height of the surrounding neighbourhood and contravenes the DTES LAP by blocking mountain views from part of Maclean Park.
  • The developer has stated it intends to “ignore its most vocal critics because there’s no way to satisfy them” and delegitimizes our concerns, stating: “This is simply another NIMBY reaction...”
  • The City of Vancouver Planning dept have told us this rezoning application, which is under their review, conforms to the DTES LAP in the technical sense so will likely proceed to Council.

Vancouver has a comprehensive and holistic network of guidelines to envisage, create and monitor livable, sustainable, secure housing and development in our city. When will this framework be the guiding principle for developers and planners, instead of perpetuating our current pattern of unsustainable and unsafe living conditions for social housing in our area, caused by crisis-management housing and inadequate services?

We, the undersigned, join the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, the Strathcona Residents’ Association, the Inner City Safety Society, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association, and Stamps Place Tenants Council, in demanding the City of Vancouver suspend consideration of all not-yet-approved development applications in the Strathcona area until the DTES Local Area Plan “Urban Design Framework” is in place, that the development and operation of social housing be held to the same standards as other rental housing, and that all development moving forward reflect and respect the DTES LAP’s vision to: “ensure that the future of the DTES improves the lives of all those who currently live in the area”.

*CBC News story - Atira Investigation

*CBC radio and print story - Architect Critical of Shipping Container Housing

*Global News story - Reaction to 420 Hawks Rezoning Open House, March 2015

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Laurel Lawry needs your help with “Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson: Social Housing Should Not Mean Substandard Housing in Vancouver”. Join Laurel and 78 supporters today.