The South Vancouver neighbourhood of Marpole will soon serve as a home for 78 low-income housing units that have attracted considerable opposition from existing residents in the area since the location was proposed a month ago.
The modular-housing project will occupy the northeast corner of West 59th Avenue and Heather Street.
“The City understands the residents of the Marpole neighbourhood have concerns about the operation of the temporary modular housing and is committed to working with the community towards good stewardship of this site and the community in general,” reads a November 27 City of Vancouver media release.
It goes on to quote Mayor Gregor Robertson defending the project and attempting to address Marpole homeowners’ concerns.
"We've seen many members of the community come forward, some with concerns about this project and others - including Marpole students, parents, business and faith leaders—who are strongly in support of the action we're taking to address homelessness,” he said quoted there. “By working closely and collaboratively with our partners—BC Housing, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department, the housing operator and the Vancouver School Board - and the local community, we will make this project a success. We've done it before throughout the city.”
Modular-housing projects are intended to be temporary, like the portable structures that are used as classrooms at some schools in Metro Vancouver and the type of trailers that are used to house workers at remote construction sites.
The 78-unit Marpole development is part of a plan to establish 600 units of modular housing across Vancouver as part of a partnership the city is in with the provincial government.
The city’s media release notes that it received a substantial amount of feedback from the public ahead of the Marpole project’s approval.
A community-information session attracted some 650 people. The city says it also received 300 comment cards and 400 emails.
Robertson emphasized the development is part of the city’s efforts to reduce homelessness.
"Temporary modular housing provides safe and secure homes for our residents who have the greatest need,” he said quoted in the release. “No person should be sleeping on the streets—or dying as a result. The approval of this project is one way the city can quickly and effectively provide quality homes for our most vulnerable residents, especially as we enter the cold winter season."
This year Vancouver’s homeless population officially passed 2,000 for the first time. According to an October 4 staff report, in 2017, there are 1,601 people sleeping in shelters and 537 out on the street.
Other locations for temporary modular housing that the city has decided on include 501 Powell Street, the 1100 block of Franklin Street, and 220 Terminal Avenue.