News / Vancouver

Vancouver approves Marpole modular housing project

Conditional approval given for 78 temporary homes in Marpole despite fierce resistance from some residents.

Signs from a Nov. 6, 2017 protest against housing for homeless people at 59th Ave. and Heather St. in Vancouver's Marpole neighbourhood.

Jen St. Denis/Metro / Metro Web Upload

Signs from a Nov. 6, 2017 protest against housing for homeless people at 59th Ave. and Heather St. in Vancouver's Marpole neighbourhood.

The City of Vancouver has approved a modular housing project in Marpole at the centre of a heated debate in the community.

Approval of the 78 temporary homes at the Pearson-Dogwood site comes after more than 650 people attended four community information sessions about the project and hundreds more email submissions were made to the city.

The quiet South Vancouver neighbourhood, which is a mix of single-family homes and low-rise apartment buildings, has been rocked by an outpouring of emotion on both sides of a debate around the city’s decision to put the housing at 59th Avenue and Heather Street. The site is located across from Sir Wilfred Laurier Elementary school and a block away from Churchill Secondary.

The city expects the first tenants to move in February.

Despite some community concerns, the city says the project is needed to house the homeless and save lives.

“I feel that by adding conditions to the approval that foster ongoing dialogue and good stewardship in the community, including partnerships with schools and parent advisory councils, that we have a very good chance of this working out quite well and housing people in need,” said Gil Kelley, the city’s general manager of planning. “I tried to balance what I was hearing – both pro and con, frankly – from the community and the urgency of the issue.”

To address concerns, the approval of the site’s development permit is conditional on periodic reports from BC Housing to the city and changes to its operation plan if needed, the establishment of a community advisory committee, that choosing tenants is made with the surrounding neighbourhood in mind and that there be regular project updates to the community.

Kelley said site preparation work will begin soon.

Modular housing is a quicker and less expensive way of building, and is usually used to build work camps for industries like oil and gas. But it’s now being seen as a temporary solution to rising homelessness. With a new provincial funding commitment, the city plans to build 600 units of temporary modular housing across the city.

-with files from Jen St. Denis

More on Metronews.ca