Final tenants at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Housing receive eviction notices
The final tenants at Vancouver’s Little Mountain Housing have received notices to vacate the site slated for redevelopment, but one resident is still hoping the only remaining building will be kept for longer.
Ingrid Steenhuisen said she found a notice on her door from B.C. Housing on July 27, advising her that final demolition and environmental clean-up of the site must proceed, and that she must vacate her home by September 30.
“Although the approval process has taken longer than anticipated, last month we received approval of the planning policy report by the City of Vancouver,” the letter from Dale McMann, an executive director with B.C. Housing, reads.
“The planning policy report recommends that the replacement of all the social housing units proceed in the first phase of the rebuilding of Little Mountain. The next steps will be in the formal rezoning process and the start of construction in 2013.”
Steenhuisen is living in one of four units in the only building on the site that wasn’t demolished in 2009. She argues the construction timeline is overly optimistic, and that the remaining residents should be given more time on the site.
“Now I need to, on my own, try to sort and separate everything and pack it, in two months time,” she told the Straight by phone on Tuesday. “Even if I was fully able-bodied, it would be an extreme challenge.”
The long-time tenant grew up at the social housing development and returned in 2003 to care for her mother, who has lived at the site since 1957, until recent medical issues put her in hospital. Steenhuisen wants to be able to remain in the area to continue her involvement with various community volunteer initiatives.
“My parents immigrated to Canada, and when we were young they volunteered us always as a family in the community,” she said. “So for both my mum and myself, this community is an intricate fiber of who we are.”
“I would like to find a way to be able to remain in this community, because there isn’t other family-oriented social housing in this neighbourhood,” she added.
According to Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang, the letter of understanding signed with the tenants in 2009 indicated that the remaining residents could stay on the site until construction begins, or until there’s a risk to their health and safety.
“They’re going to go for rezoning fairly shortly, so they need a clear site to do prep work,” Jang told the Straight by phone. “So it’s difficult to work around those buildings.”
Vancouver city council approved the planning policy report for the housing development last month. The project still has to go through a rezoning process, which is expected to take between 12 and 18 months, according to a report that went before city council in June.
Previous Little Mountain tenants will be given the first chance at moving into the 224 replacement social housing units, which will be constructed in the first phase of development. An additional 10 units will be built for urban aboriginal tenants.
The redeveloped Little Mountain housing complex located between Main and Ontario Streets and 33rd and 37th Avenue is also slated to include family housing units and market rental.
According to the letter issued to Steenhuisen, B.C. Housing will assist the remaining tenants with relocating to other subsidized housing developments.