City of Vancouver greenlights temporary modular housing complex near Nanaimo SkyTrain

Some neighbours raised objections about the project

Despite complaints from some neighbours, Vancouver’s director of planning has approved a temporary modular housing complex for the homeless at 3598 Copley St. The property’s former address was 2305 to 2355 Vanness Avenue.

Construction on the complex, featuring 58 units, is expected to begin in November and be ready for occupancy in the first quarter of 2020. It will be the 12th such complex in the city. Each 320-square-foot home will have a kitchenette, bathroom, living and sleeping area, and individual heating. Six will be wheelchair accessible. The building will also feature an indoor amenity space, a common laundry room and a commercial kitchen, while residents will be provided two meals a day.

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The development site is currently vacant. Some neighbours raised objections about the plan through a group called Neighbours Around the Nanaimo Station led by Alicia Barsallo, a former NDP candidate for Vancouver-Kingsway. The group argued temporary modular housing was substandard and that permanent social housing is preferable.

In a previous Courier story, Barsallo also said she worried homeless people from the Downtown Eastside with addiction and mental health issues would move in, but wouldn’t “get the same attention” in her neighbourhood.

BC Housing named Community Builders Group (CBG) as the operator for the site. It will provide support services to tenants, including skills training, volunteer work, employment preparations and connections to community-based programs.

A community advisory committee will be formed to handle concerns that arise.

About 115 people attended community meetings about the project. Public feedback included 42 comment cards and 79 emails and calls in both support and opposition.

The city has promised to enhance lighting outside the building, preserve as many trees as possible on the property and add landscaping along the front of the building to provide screening and increase privacy.

The B.C. Government has provided construction and operational funding for temporary modular housing in Vancouver. The Government of Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will also be supplement capital costs on this complex.

— With files from Mike Howell


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