What is the current status of the Arbutus and 7th/8th rezoning application?
Why is the Coalition opposed to this supportive housing rezoning proposal?
There is considerable existing Social & Supportive Housing in Kitsilano which has been very successful. However, the formula proposed in the model that is part of this new rezoning application has not shown any success. What is being proposed is simply the same failed SRO model from the DTES, that BC Housing and the City of Vancouver are looking to export around the City, with many safety issues and no real change of support or expected outcomes (aside from a bathroom/kitchen in the room). In addition, there has been no real consultation with the community.
The density in this building is considerably more than the existing zoning, but it is expected this area will move to a higher density and have taller buildings in the future than today. Are you opposed to the size of this building?
There are indeed many plans to increase density like the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan. Both are still to be presented and approved by Council. Our objection is to the unprecedented number of units of this supportive housing development, which exceeds any support capacity in the area, and exceeds BC Housing's target average of 40-50 units, as documented in Section G of the Program Framework document.
The density of 140 units (now updated to 129 units), exceeds any experience the non-profit operator has done previously. It is this unprecedented combination of the maximum of 129 people needing the most help, that makes this proposal destined for failure and thus, an unacceptable proposal for a neighbourhood with no supports.
The extension of this problem to becoming a public safety issue is that this site is 25 meters from a 450-child elementary school, toddler park and several low-income Seniors’ homes. It is also next door to a Women's Supportive Recovery Home, which was never consulted, as their very existence and vulnerable residents are at risk in their recovery and safety. Beyond the immediate block there are multiple other schools, and in close proximity to a BC Liquor store which everyone acknowledges is highly problematic.
There is a real issue with the affordability of housing in BC and in Vancouver. Why wouldn't we take advantage of this opportunity to address that with this social housing development?
We support new affordable housing in Kitsilano and although the City of Vancouver and BC Housing have termed this rezoning proposal "social housing" it's entirely misleading.
This rezoning application is for high-density and up to 100% low barrier supportive housing, which means that it will only house an at-risk homeless population, most of whom suffer from alcohol and drug dependencies and mental health issues.
It will not address affordability generally and it excludes the general social housing market including single-parent and women-led families and seniors, who would not be able to reside in this building. Instead, it creates numerous safety concerns based on the current experiences of communities with this type of supportive housing.
City Council just approved a motion in April 2021 to allow 6-Storey Social Housing to be built rapidly, to accelerate housing, without the need for a rezoning. Why are they now asking for a long and costly rezoning process on this site given the stated urgency?
This rezoning application is largely politically motivated with less interest in the well-being of the community or the tenants. In April 2021, under political pressure due to the deterioration of the Strathcona Park Camps, BC Housing Minister David Eby and Mayor Kennedy Stewart signed a political MOU to build 350 new units. There were no commitments in this MOU to provide for any additional mental health, substance abuse or public safety supports. A larger building with more units, gets closer to this political number, even though it is not in the best interest of its residents or the community.
As part of the rezoning application, BC Housing stated that they did community feedback sessions and stated many groups were consulted. Why are people saying that they were not consulted?
Many of the groups that BC Housing met with were merely advised of the plans, and any feedback or input provided was summarily ignored. The report published by BC Housing's PR firm intentionally does not provide any detailed feedback counts, given a large amount of opposition due to lack of planning and support. The report is written in a way that would lead someone to incorrectly believe that the feedback was balanced. In fact, it completely ignores the real concerns and meaningful feedback that the community provided, including practical alternatives to the current development plan. Minister David Eby also stated in a radio interview that this was a "done deal" with the City. It would appear much of the decisions and agreements may have already been made prior to even starting public consultation.
Given the close proximity to a children's park and school, Women's Supportive Recovery home, as well as numerous low-income homes for the aged, were there any activities or considerations for public safety or consultation with VPD on best practices for ensuring public safety?
Consultation with VPD was not done as part of this process. Whilst discussion may have occurred, it was largely information provided to VPD about the proposal with no forum or consideration of VPD feedback. In October 2021, a motion was passed in Council to be inclusive of community groups, including Police, when examining initiatives that may impact public safety, as a Core Service the City is required to provide under Vancouver Charter. This process was not done in the planning and submission of this rezoning proposal.
Don't we need more Supportive Housing in the City?
While homelessness is an issue in the City of Vancouver, there is a lack of data to justify the current "Housing First" Support Housing model as a successful method to best address our city's challenges in this area. There are many Supportive Housing sites that are not at full capacity and over 737 new Supportive Housing units were opened since March 2020. The City has not done a homeless Survey in over 2 years and just deferred the 2022 survey.
At present, the City is working on estimates, based on other information in adjacent city services, (like 311 calls etc), to guess at a convenient number. Numbers from varying sources put the homeless number somewhere around 2,000, but there is no confirmed number.
What is confirmed, is the critical lack of timely mental health and substance abuse programs, coupled with Housing. This rezoning application does not address either of these shortages now or in the foreseeable future.