City of Vancouver aims for more temporary modular housing to take in poor people

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      The City of Vancouver wants more temporary modular housing to shelter people on welfare and low incomes.

      The city is looking to speed up the delivery of these accommodations that are composed of prefabricated sections and assembled using a crane.

      On February 16 this year, the city opened its first temporary modular housing development at 220 Terminal Avenue.

      The three-storey housing project has 40 units. Each suite measuring 250 square feet has its own bathroom and kitchen.

      To expedite the process of creating more temporary modular housing, a recommendation has been made for council to delegate to city staff the power to relax zoning and development bylaws.

      The proposal to assign the discretionary power to the director of planning and the development permit board is contained in a report to council by Kent Munro, who is the assistant director of Midtown with the city.

      “The action recommended in this report will reduce development application approval times and will enable the City to be more nimble and responsive when realizing similar projects to address critical housing needs,” Munro wrote in his report.

      The development at 220 Terminal Avenue was done on city-owned land.

      Munro noted that one important observation from the pilot project was that “development approvals processing challenges were complex and time-consuming and that those issues could hamper the city’s ability to respond to needs and opportunities when they present themselves”.

      Temporary modular housing is intended for people on welfare assistance, and seniors’ pension, and renters who cannot afford market rates.

      Munro noted in his report that this type of public housing is limited to a maximum of five years, and subject to extension for another five years.

      Temporary modular housing is seen as ideal for vacant sites that are subject to future development.

      Munro noted: “Building upon the success of the City’s first pilot TMH [temporary modular housing] project, it is timely to take further steps to prepare for the expedited delivery of this innovative form of housing as specific needs and opportunities arise.”