Ingrid Steenhuisen hadn't seen the eviction notice posted on her door until a neighbour phoned and told her to look. Steenhuisen said she felt "shocked" to receive the notification July 27.
She said a letter of understanding from the city had given her the impression the last four remaining families at Little Mountain would be able to stay and move straight into the replacement units of social housing.
But now the tenants must vacate their homes by Sept. 30, according to a letter from Dale McMann, an executive director with B.C. Housing, to the tenants.
B.C. Housing says the last remaining townhouse row in the 1950s-era social housing development near Queen Elizabeth Park needs to be demolished now to clear the way for environmental remediation and new construction.
"There are people out there who sometimes think, 'Oh well, you knew it was coming,'" Steenhuisen said. "Yes. But there's usually some notice and there's no need for it to be this heavy-handed when it's four families."
She wonders when the work will actually occur after she and her neighbours, who all have disabilities, deal with major upheaval. Steenhuisen's 79-yearold mother, who has lived at Little Mountain since 1956 and in the same unit since 1964, has been in the hospital and then residential care since October 2009.
"I have not notified my mom yet," Steenhuisen said Friday, getting choked up. She worries how the news her mother won't be able to return to her home will affect her.
B.C. Housing says soil removal near the townhouses needs to begin mid August because the treatment requires warm, dry weather.
Old, unused oil tanks were removed and contaminated soils were treated when the other buildings were demolished in 2009 and 2010. Verification testing of previous environmental cleanup work is required for the rest of the site, which involves installation of groundwater monitoring wells and drilling to install gas vapour monitoring probes. The work is expected to take approximately five months from when the townhouses are vacated in October to complete the full environmental cleanup, testing and verification to receive required environmental approvals.
Rezoning for the site, with public consultation, still needs to occur. Holborn Properties hopes to start construction in the first half of 2013. City council approved policy for Little Mountain June 27. The original 224 units of social housing will be replaced with at least 234 units in the first phase of development and a minimum of 184 of these units will be suitable for families. Returning residents of Little Mountain will be given the first right of refusal on units with rents comparable to what they formerly paid.
A minimum of 1,475 units will replace the original 224 units on the 15.3-acre site. At least 25 per cent of the total units are to be family-oriented.
Holborn is to try to make units more affordable by constructing wood-frame buildings of six storeys and less. Building heights will be a maximum of 12 storeys, permitted in limited locations.
B.C. Housing will help remaining tenants find subsidized housing and assist with moving and related expenses. According to the 2007 memorandum of understanding between B.C. Housing and the city, B.C. Housing will invest the net proceeds from the sale of the site to Holborn in the development of social housing throughout the province. Half of that investment would be spent in Vancouver.
A June city staff report estimated the development of 1,250 market units at Little Mountain would mean $14.6 million in development cost levies and $9.5 million in community amenity contributions for the city.