Vancouver development: Residents rally against Kits’ social housing proposal


A group of residents on Vancouver’s west side held a rally on Wednesday, amid a lengthy debate over whether to build a new public housing building in the neighborhood.

The rally, which was attended by several dozen people, began with a girl singing a rendition of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi. Paving a paradise to lay out a parking lot – a theme attendees wanted Vancouver City Hall to hear.

“We should be moving towards better alternatives, insisting that councilors vote ‘no’ to rezoning,” said Karen Finnan, a neighborhood resident of 30 years and a volunteer with the Kitsilano Coalition, a collective of people opposed to the proposed social housing project.

BC Housing offers a 13 story tower on Arbutus Street just north of Broadway. It would include 129 modular studios for low-income residents and people experiencing homelessness.

Rally organizers say they support social housing in the neighborhood but would prefer to see it go to families and the elderly.

“The subway (Broadway) terminus will be right across the street, and would be well suited for seniors and people with reduced mobility,” Finnan said.

The tower would be built on empty land directly across from St. Augustine Elementary School, where 450 children attend school. Some think the tower would be too close to be comfortable.

“We would like to see something smaller here,” Finnan said. “The larger the scale, the more likely you are to struggle with people struggling with addictions, mental health issues, or transitioning from homelessness.”

Housing Minister David Eby, in an interview with CTV News last week, addressed some of the group’s concerns.

“I want to assure people that if any issues arise I’ll be quick to respond because we need homes like this all over the city,” he said.

“And the people who would live there will fit into the neighborhood.”

With an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 people homeless in Vancouver, Eby says rapidly increasing the supply of affordable housing is essential. While he understands people’s concern, he says it’s inappropriate.

Citizens will have their say at a public hearing in town hall next Tuesday.

“If we vote no to rezoning, we can start working towards a project model for this site that will be successful for the residents of the project and for the surrounding community,” Finnan said.


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