A controversial social housing development is moving forward in Kitsilano after Vancouver city council voted to approve the project Tuesday.
The vote came a day after a marathon public hearing that heard from speakers for over nine hours, many of whom said they were opposed to the proposed location of the 13-storey building that will include 129 studio apartments for low-income people and people experiencing homelessness.
Overall, council heard from 292 speakers while considering the project, which were spread over a number of previous hearings that began last month.
A minimum of 50 per cent of the units would be reserved for people currently homeless and on income assistance, while the other half would be held for people earning between $15,000 and $30,000 per year.
Opponents say the project, which is slated to go up at Arbutus Street between 7th and 8th Avenue near a future SkyTrain station, is too close to a local elementary school.
Supporters of the development and others like it say the city is already facing a homelessness crisis, and that action is needed now to give people dignified places off the street to live.
Vancouver’s 2020 homeless count, the last conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, documented 2,095 homeless people in the city, about a quarter of them unsheltered.
The City of Vancouver has offered the land for the project, with funding for the building coming from BC Housing.
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BC Housing says the proposal is part of a memorandum of understanding with the City of Vancouver and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to deliver about 350 supportive housing units across five sites throughout the city.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart suggested during Monday’s public hearing that BC Housing would revoke its funding for the Kitsilano project if the proposal was altered in any way from the current plans, amid debate over shrinking its size.
BC Housing did not dispute Stewart’s comments in a statement to Global News on Tuesday.
“BC Housing will deliver on our commitments made in the (memorandum of understanding),” the agency said.
“However, we are always mindful that the need to build more supportive housing across the province is immediate and there are projects in other communities that are waiting for funding.”
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