Vancouver’s latest tool for housing the homeless getting rough reception

Some residents feel blindsided by the temporary modular housing projects

Construction has hardly begun at the first of Vancouver’s temporary modular housing projects and already pushback is mounting against the city’s latest strategy to house its homeless.

Vancouver was granted an injunction earlier this week from the Supreme Court of British Columbia to dislodge protesters who were preventing work crews from accessing a construction site in the tony neighbourhood of Marpole.

Some residents feel blindsided by the move and are critical of a decision they feel puts children in danger. Three schools are close to the project, including an elementary school located directly across the street.

The Marpole site will host two buildings with a total of 78 units, each of which would measure about 23 square metres and contain a kitchen and washroom. The project is part of a $66-million investment from the provincial government to build 600 units across Vancouver. Another 2,000 modular living quarters are planned across B.C. over the next two years.

Derek Palaschuk, a spokesman for the Caring Citizens of Vancouver Society, said the community fully supports the construction of modular housing and solving homelessness in Vancouver.

“It’s the right idea but wrong location,” he said on Thursday.

“You should not put our children at risk by having this modular housing … 25 steps from an elementary school.”

Palaschuk cited city documents that reserve at least 20 per cent of the units for tenants who may have an extensive criminal past and a high risk to reoffend, a history of property damage, aggressive and intimidating behaviour, and poor housekeeping and hygiene.

Ethel Whitty, Vancouver’s director of homelessness services, said it is typical for residents to protest this kind of project before embracing it, which has been the experience with the 13 permanent supportive housing initiatives located across the city.

“People forget they’re even there,” Whitty said. “That’s the thing. In some cases there will be resistance right in the very beginning. The community advisory committees will be set up and people will come once a month and then quarterly and then interest kind of drops off because, in fact, the housing just becomes integrated into the community.”Other groups have expressed support for the project, including an organization made up mostly of students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, a block from the Marpole project.

Holly Morrison, 17, a spokeswoman for Marpole Students For Modular Housing, said the idea for the group came after she and other students saw adults calling themselves Marpole Students Against Modular Housing protesting outside the school.

“We kind of felt like we had maybe our voices stolen from us,” Morrison said. Homelessness is not the fault of the individual but of society as a whole, she added.

“These aren’t inherently bad people. These are people who have just been dealt a bad hand of cards.”

The group plans to push for better transit and a cheaper grocery store in the neighbourhood, Morrison said.

Several other sites around the city have been earmarked for modular units, though another proposed site in the centre of the city’s Downtown Eastside that would replace a tent city has prompted a backlash. Residents issued a statement saying the B.C. government of shirking on the need for more permanent social housing.

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Student athletes recognized for outstanding seasons

Fernie Secondary School students got their awards in a drive by ceremony last week

The Elk Valley celebrates Canada Day

Creative socially distant Canada Day festivities were held in both Fernie and Sparwood this week

Vintage vehicles, costumed drivers cruise Fernie streets

Wheels in the Valley hosted their first ever Rally in the Valley event this past Saturday

Food conditioned black bear destroyed in Elk Valley

The bear was destroyed by the Conservation Officer Service on June 28

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

B.C. residents can go to the Royal BC Museum for half price this summer

Museum reopening in phases, COVID-19 measures in place

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read