Maybe you heard — the Streetohome Foundation reached its $26.5 million fundraising goal to help end homelessness in Vancouver. The foundation announced this feat a few weeks ago but, sadly, I didn’t get an invitation to the press conference; that, I’m assured, will never happen again. Moving right along…
The foundation got going in 2008, assembled a group of well-heeled Vancouverites and told the B.C. and city governments that it wanted to help out with the homeless crisis. With big money guys such as Frank Giustra and Bob Rennie involved, it didn’t take long — two years, in fact —for the $26.5 million to roll in.
That pool of cash will or has gone to support the development of eight social housing buildings being constructed under a plan devised by the B.C. government and City of Vancouver. The sites are located at 1601 West Seventh Ave., 215 West Second Ave., 1134 Burrard St., 111 Princess Ave., 675 East Broadway, 220 Princess Ave and 1050 Expo Blvd.
The city has put up the property for all eight sites and another six while the B.C. government is covering the bulk of the construction and operating costs. Taking a look at the foundation’s website, I came across many familiar names on the board of directors, some of whom have also donated money. The website doesn’t list the amount each donor gave but contributors included city manager Penny Ballem (also on the board), Police Chief Jim Chu, former premier Mike Harcourt (on the board), former NPA fundraising chair Robert Macdonald, former attorney general Geoff Plant (on the board) and his wife Janet, Vancouver Foundation prez Faye Wightman, VanCity prez Tamara Vrooman, Lululemon founders Chip and Shannon Wilson and former Zeller’s exec Hani Zayadi. Another 16 donors were listed as anonymous.
Wonder how many of those included filthy rich athletes, rock stars and actors living it up in this world-class city? Just asking.
A reminder to those interested in the controversial Beach Towers rezoning debate brewing in the West End at 1600 Beach Ave. and 1651 Harwood St. City council is expected to resume the public hearing Feb. 19 to finish listening to speakers who turned out Feb. 5 to the first night of the hearing. Beach Towers is a complex of four highrises overlooking English Bay. Beach Towers Properties wants to construct 113 rental units spread over three new buildings on the same site.
Proposed rent for a studio apartment is $1,195 per month, a one-bedroom would go for $1,495 and a two-bedroom at $2,155. Many people who showed up to the first night of the hearing opposed the development. Increased traffic, design of the buildings, crowding of the Towers site and high rents were among their concerns.
Supporter Robert Capar, who wrote to city council, said: “As a renter in the West End — since I cannot afford to buy where I want to live — I would welcome the opportunity to have new purpose-built rental housing available. The building I live in and pay substantial rent is over 55 years old and the owners do practically nothing to improve the property since they are quite aware that there is no other properties available in the area.”
The hearing resumes at 6 p.m. at city hall.