Kitsilano group fears supportive housing will impact "hundreds of children"

May 9 2022, 11:50 pm

A group of concerned Kitsilano residents is expressing fears that a supportive housing project will impact neighbourhood safety, including children who go to school in the area.

The 140-unit supportive housing building would be built next to the future Arbutus SkyTrain Station.

Daily Hive Urbanized reported on the most recent media outreach by the Kitsilano Coalition, where it was suggested that 1,400 police calls would be generated in the first year after completion of the project.

There have been some changes made to the rezoning application for the Arbutus development, but the Kitsilano Coalition is unhappy with these changes and it’s directing frustration toward BC Housing and the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA).

“It is clear that by attempting to reduce the numbers of the units and allocating 50% as Housing Income Limits (HIL) subsidized units, BC Housing, VAHA, and City staff are trying to mask the shortcomings of the proposed development for hard to house individuals with serious addiction and mental health issues,” Kitsilano Coalition Spokesperson Karen Finnan said in a statement.

Some of the key issues with the development include the suggestion that there would be no clinical supports, along with the notion that the “operator lacks experience when it comes to a site of this size.”

The proposed changes are also a clear attempt to try and sidestep the fact that this is not actually affordable housing, but low-barrier housing without supports, which will compromise the safety of the tenants, as well as the surrounding children, families, seniors and residents in the neighbourhood,” Finnan added.

The Kitsilano Coalition suggests that a recent amendment actually makes the supportive housing proposal less safe because HIL subsidized tenants would be living in a building that allows drug use, which includes an onsite drug injection site.

BC Housing is now advocating to place those who are at risk of homelessness or moving out of homelessness into the tower, alongside people suffering from severe mental health issues and addictions,” Finnan said.

“At the same time, the amendment does not address the very real impact on the hundreds of children at nearby schools and playgrounds, as well as residents of a local women’s supportive housing and recovery project.

The group says that BC Housing and the City of Vancouver have suggested the changes that were made to the proposal were in response to community feedback, something that Kitsilano Coalition disagrees with.

To say that these changes were made based on community feedback is another misrepresentation by the City and BC Housing,” stated Finnan.

“The tower’s height and size remain unchanged and it remains a low-barrier facility with a drug injection site right next to hundreds of children. Once again, the community’s concerns and opinions have been ignored and sidelined.

Daily Hive Urbanized has reached out to BC Housing for a response.

With files from Kenneth Chan

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