The City of Vancouver may consider putting 252 units of social housing slated for the Olympic Village in a different area of Southeast False Creek.
Mayor Gregor Robertson discussed this option in an interview with the Straight after he played at a charity hockey for the homeless at UBC’s Thunderbird Arena last Friday (February 20).
The cost of building the social-housing units has increased by 70 percent from an initial estimate of $65 million in 2006 to about $110 million. This translates to approximately $440,000 a unit. The entire Olympic Village is now expected to cost $1.1 billion.
“We’re assessing that now and seeing whether there’s a better option that delivers more social housing for the same dollars in the same neigbourhood as part of our Olympic commitment,” Robertson said.
Staff will report back to council by April 15 about options regarding the affordable-housing component of the project.
“I think given the massive cost increase, we gotta look at trying to get a good outcome here,” Robertson said. “It’s really unfortunate to see costs escalate and mismanagement, but hopefully we can turn it into a positive outcome and ensure that we meet the commitments.”
The Olympic Village will have 850 units of market housing, of which 730 are sales units and the rest, rental.
If social housing will be moved outside the athletes’ village, does this mean that the 252 units originally intended for affordable housing will be converted to market housing?
“If we figure out an alternative location?” Robertson responded. “Yeah, or rental. We’re willing to be more creative and look at the best possible housing outcomes given the challenges. I’d like to see more rental housing on the site, and that might fit with the economic realities too.”