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Can we expect 1400 police calls at the BC Housing Project?

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MEDIA RELEASE - Proposed 140-unit single room BC Housing tower at 8th and Arbutus raising community concerns about crime and safety.

Vancouver, B.C. (April 21, 2022): BC Housing’s proposal for a 140-unit tower consisting of single rooms for hard-to-house individuals with serious mental health and addiction issues is raising serious safety concerns with the project’s Kitsilano neighbours.

“At the recent public safety forum held by Councillors Sarah Kirby-Yung, Lisa Dominato and Rebecca Bligh, we heard from Deputy Police Chief Howard Chow that when 100 hard-to-house people living in Oppenheimer Park were moved into the former Howard Johnson Hotel in downtown Vancouver, there were 1000 police calls to that site in just one year,” said Karen Finnan, a Kits resident and a spokesperson for the Kitsilano Coalition. “BC Housing plans put 140 people with serious addiction and mental health issues into the proposed tower with no services other than a monitored injection site in the building. So, does that mean Kitsilano families and small businesses should expect 1400 police calls in a year if the project gets city hall approval? Deputy Chief Chow also talked about the alarming rise in random and stranger attacks in Vancouver, and the project proposed by BC housing only increases our concerns about public safety in our neighbourhood.”

The coalition says it took an FOI request about the consultation process to realize that BC Housing painted a picture of support in the community when the actual results showed something completely different.

“The BC Housing consultation report claimed ‘many community members expressed general support’ and ‘many community members expressed general opposition’, when the truth is 75 per cent of the feedback in the public sessions was against the proposal,” explained Finnan. “They twisted and misrepresented the community’s comments and level of support because they didn’t like what they were hearing. We expect BC Housing’s rezoning application to come before city council this spring, but the community has been sidelined and ignored by BC Housing and city staff. We want council to reject the rezoning application in favour of something that actually works. The proposal comes with none of the services people with mental health and addiction issues need, and even if it did, there is no obligation for people in the proposed tower to accept help or treatment. It simply feels like the failed housing model of the Downtown Eastside is being exported to neighbourhoods across the city.”

“The land in question belongs to the City of Vancouver and we believe council should be listening to the residents of Kitsilano and looking at other options that fit into a family neighbourhood, such as housing for single-parent families led by women,” said Cheryl Grant, a member of the Kitsilano Coalition. “We have other supportive and social housing projects in Kits and they work because they fit and are the right scale and operating model. The proposal by BC Housing for 8th and Arbutus is too big, has no support services, and is alarming to the community as there is an elementary school, daycare and toddler park all within a few metres of the tower they are proposing. What’s being proposed is a failed model that raises real public safety concerns.”

Media contact:
Trevor Pancoust