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Vancouver's Downtown Eastside: Hope for the Future

In an area of Vancouver defined by despair, drug addiction, mental health disorders, and a lack of hope for the future, the prospect of marginally better living conditions for the several thousand people who call the downtown eastside home emerged a year ago when the provincial government purchased 16 hotels in Vancouver's poorest neighbourhood.

Since that time, the Province of British Columbia has also agreed to build new social housing for the poorest and most destitute of our citizenry, on land turned over to the province by the City of Vancouver. The City and the Province, working together, have fast-tracked the approval of up to 1,200 new social and supportive housing units, on 12 city-owned sites.

How is the renovation and construction process coming along, one year on?

The short answer: nothing good happens quickly. And so it goes.


In the most recent report issued by Vancouver Housing Update, progress is slow, but steady. The 18 community non-profit partners who will operate the renovated hotels, as well as the 12 new social housing projects — range from the Lookout Emergency Aid Society to the Motivation, Power and Achievement Society and the Coast Foundation, to RainCity Housing and the Atira Women's Resource Society, among a raft of other non-profit partners. All are onboard, and more than ready to house the homeless.

As to progress on those 12 City-owned sites, development on the sites continues to wend its way through Vancouver's Planning Department.

The local architectural firm of Gomberoff Bell Lyon submitted their plan for the site to be developed at 188 East 1st Avenue, on May 2nd; this site will house 129 persons in a social housing building that will meet the LEED Green Environmental standard. Construction on the building is about to commence, with completion set for mid-2010, when residents will move into the building to by operated by the Lookout Emergency Aid Society.

GBL's remaining projects — at 1237 Howe Street and 505 Abbott Street — have made it through the design and notification process, and await final approval from the Planning Department before construction begins.

Meanwhile, on May 12th of this year, the Vancouver-based architectural firm of Neale Staniszkis Doll Adams submitted their plan to Vancouver City Hall for a 9-storey, 62-resident apartment building, to be operated jointly by the Katherine Sanford Housing Society, and the MPA. Again, construction is about to commence, with a completion date set for mid-2110.

The other NSDA-designed site, at 1388 Seymour, consists of 106 single units, and will be operated by the Granville Mennonite Housing Society.

VanRamblings' readers may follow developments on the 12 sites (to be increased shortly to 14 sites, we have been informed by reliable sources) by clicking on this link, and when you arrive at the page to gain further insight, clicking on the addresses of the sites on the left-hand side of the page.

In time, as construction progresses, VanRamblings will produce a photo record of the social housing sites' progress. We'll see you back here soon.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at July 30, 2008 9:53 AM in Vancouver


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