A number of of mental-health service providers and other nonprofits have lent their support to a 12-storey development planned for the intersection of Commercial and Venables.
“Vancouver is facing a housing crisis,” begins an open letter addressed to the City of Vancouver. “Vacancy rates are low, new homes are in short supply, and affordability has become a major issue for renters and homeowners across the housing spectrum. Nowhere is the housing crisis more urgent or the need more desperate, than for marginalized people – including those in our communities living with mental illness.”
It emphasizes that a majority of Vancouver’s homeless population struggles with a mental-health issue, and notes that wait lists for supportive housing are severely backlogged.
“The Kettle Society and Boffo Properties have developed a proposal for the Commercial and Venables site that will help to meet the urgent need for supportive housing in Grandview Woodland,” the letter continues. “The project will create supportive housing units for up to 30 people living with mental illness and other barriers, and will also renew the existing drop-in centre that serves over 150 people in Grandview Woodland every day.”
Kettle has operated a building at the same location on Commercial for 40 years. The new structures would see it expand onto neighbouring sites owned by the City of Vancouver and Boffo Properties, a partner on the project.
The development in question is proposed to consist of three connected towers. The tallest will stand 12 stories, a second at 10 stories tall, and a third is eight stories, and those will be connected by a wider block five-stories tall. It would include 30 supportive-housing units that will be rented at below-market rates, approximately 200 apartments for sale at market rates, as well as street-level retail.
Some Grandview Woodlands residents have voiced fervent opposition to the project, arguing it is too large and would act as an “intrusion on the community”.
Today’s open letter argues that the market-rate components of the project would help subsidize the Kettle’s nonprofit operation and the group's activities that support people with mental-health challenges.
“The project offers a unique partnership between market and social housing,” it reads. “Without the proposed 12 storeys and the market-housing component of this project, the supportive housing and renewed drop-in facility is not economically viable.”
The letter concludes: “As non-profit housing and service providers, we believe that partnerships and innovative solutions like The Kettle Boffo project are desperately required to address Vancouver’s housing crisis.”
Here’s the list of nonprofits that added their names to the bottom of the open letter to the city:
Atira, Janice Abbott, CEO
BC Artscape, Genevieve Bucher, President
BC Non-Profit Housing Association, Kishone Roy, CEO
Coast Mental Health, Darrell Burnham, CEO
Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society, Tracy McCullough, Executive Director
Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Calum Scott, Director of Youth Services
Lookout Emergency Aid Society, Shayne Williams, Executive Director
Lu'ma Native Housing Society, Marcel Swain, CEO
McLaren Housing Society of British Columbia, Kim Stacey, Executive Director
MPA Society, David MacIntyre, Executive Director
RainCity Housing, Greg Richmond, Acting Executive Director
Sanford Housing Society, Allyson Muir, Executive Director
The Bloom Group, Jonathan Oldman, Executive Director
The 127 Society for Housing, Joanne Graham, Executive Director
Urban Native Youth Association, Dena Klashinsky, Executive Director
Vancouver Native Housing Society, David Eddy, CEO
Watari Counselling & Support Service Society, Michelle Fortin, Executive Director