City explains housing project at former Ramada

Non-market tenants will move from downtown to new neighbourhood

The City of Vancouver hosts an information session Jan. 10 about its plan to turn the former Ramada Inn hotel at 3484 Kingsway into non-market housing.

The city bought the Ramada Inn late last year for $15.5 million. Its being renamed the Kingsway Continental.

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Tenants of the Old Continental residence at 1390 Granville St., a city-operated non-market housing building in downtown Vancouver at the north end of Granville Street Bridge, will get priority placement in the 123 units.

The Old Continental notable for the orca whale mural facing the north approach of the bridge was constructed in 1911, but its beyond repair, according to Jennifer Standeven, assistant director of business operations.

The city purchased it in 1954. Units are designated for those over 35, but the majority are older than 46. The Old Continental currently houses 86 tenants.

The plan is for it to be demolished and for the [Granville] loops to be redeveloped, explained Standeven.

After the 86 tenants are accommodated at the new site, assuming all of them agree to move across town, there will be at least 37 rooms remaining.

There may be some people from B.C. Housing [who move in] that hasnt been confirmed yet and there may be people from the neighbourhood, Standeven said. Wed like to ensure that if we have space then people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the Collingwood area come in as well.

She added that the city plans to use the Ramada for housing for at least the next 10 years. Some renovations will be done before tenants move in, including the removal of carpets in rooms and hallways.

It could open for occupancy in mid 2013.

Old Continental tenants were informed about the move in December. Standeven said she told them their building was old and in poor repair and that staff had searched for an equivalent building in downtown south, but couldnt find one.

They listened and that was great. When I got to every room has its own bathroom [in the Ramada], it was like yes! she recalled, pointing out tenants share bathrooms with four bathrooms and showers per floor at the Old Continental.

While the new residence is in the Collingwood neighbourhood, far from downtown south, Standeven said it has good access to public transportation, including proximity to Joyce station and buses on Kingsway.

Weve had discussions with Collingwood Neighbourhood House and the community groups that are part of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House homelessness committee and that includes police, the BIA and Evergreen Health, she added. [The reaction] has been very positive to the housing part of it.

Standeven said there might be neighbourhood concerns, but the Jan. 10 information session is meant to hear those concerns, explain whos moving into the Ramada and how we want to be good neighbours.

So when were looking at people coming into the building, were going to be working with Collingwood Neighbourhood House and the homelessness committee to look at the criteria for people coming into the building. Will there be concerns? Im sure. Its great when people are engaged in their community and theyre interested. And I hope they come out and talk to us about them and we allay their fears or if concerns come up well work through them and address them.

The meeting runs from 6 to 8 p.m., Jan. 10 at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, 5288 Joyce St.

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