Phased redevelopment of Heather Place in Vancouver eyed in 2017 amid serious rental shortage

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      The reconstruction of the publicly-owned Heather Place rental property on the west side of Vancouver may start next year.

      It will be a phased redevelopment so current residents will not be displaced from the site almost the size of a city block.

      Owned by the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC), the 86-townhouse facility will be replaced by three buildings of five, seven, and 10 storeys.

      When the redevelopment is complete, there will be a total of 230 rental units in the area bounded by 13th Avenue on the north, 14th Avenue on the south, Heather Street on the east, and Willow Street on the west.

      In order for the first phase of the project to proceed soon, MVHC must pay out the property’s existing mortgage with the federal government.

      In a report included in the agenda Friday (October 14) of Metro Vancouver’s housing committee, regional housing director Don Littleford seeks endorsement of his recommendation for the MVHC to pay the remaining loan of $615,608, which includes interest, to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

      [The housing committee members, who are elected municipal officials from across the region, are also the directors of the MVHC board.]

      The CMHC mortgage is due on January 1, 2018, but according to Littleford, waiting until the loan matures would delay the Heather Place project.

      “This is untenable given the acute rental housing shortage being experienced in the region, and especially in Vancouver,” Littleford wrote in his report to the housing committee.

      The full payment of the mortgage is part of the legal conditions required by the City of Vancouver before redevelopment can start.

      On April 29, 2014, city council approved the application by MVHC to rezone the property so more homes can be built.

      Littleford wrote in his report that one building with 67 rental units will be constructed in the first phase of redevelopment.

      In a separate report to housing committee members, Littleford recommended endorsement of the MVHC’s overall budget in 2017.

      The budget includes that $5.6 million for the construction of the first of three buildings in the new Heather Place.