My support for this project has put me on the opposite side of the barricades to most of those with whom I have campaigned on projects in the past, and I have, to be frank, been shocked by some of the NIMBY rhetoric used by a vocal minority of the opponents. My support, let me make clear, was based a number of factors:
- the location of the project, at the lowest point of Grandview, combined with the immediacy of the already existing Clark Drive arterial and light industrial 6-storey zoning, made the height of the proposal unproblematic in my view;
- the integration of detox services seems reasonable to me, and I have yet to see any reliable police statistics to suggest that an increase in crime is to be expected;
- there is zero heritage value to the lots being used;
- most importantly to me, it would supply about 100 truly affordable housing units at a point in time when we are facing a critical shortage of available units meeting that criteria.
The press release issued on 16th February 2018 specifically stated that the residential part of the project “will serve low-to moderate-income people.” Now, a year later, we hear a different story. According to an article in the Georgia Strait this week, City staff have decided that there will be 90 housing units of which half will be rented at “private rental market rates for Vancouver”. And even with that, they still recommend that BC Housing be forgiven the $1.9m of development cost levies they should be paying.
This puts a completely different perspective on the project for me, and I have to ask, why? There are literally thousands of market rental units in the pipeline already; what purpose would these 45 units serve. We don’t need them. But we do need what we were promised — a supply of genuinely affordable housing for the 50% of Vancouverites who are trying to survive on median or lower incomes.
If our shiny new City Council approves the staff report as is, then one has to wonder if they have already fallen under the thrall of Vision’s private-sector-favouring staff as recent development approval decisions seem to suggest. They can still show some spine by rejecting this report and returning the entire project to its social housing roots.