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City of Vancouver Provides Temporary Housing

The City of Vancouver has purchased 3475 East Hastings with the intent of turning it into a temporary housing facility for homeless people. The building was previously used as a hotel by many operators, most recently Ramada.

The property will house people who have already been in CoV shelters for “many months” while awaiting permanent housing. The program will operate from December 2013 until the fall of 2014. After fall 2014 it is expected that nearly 600 housing units will be available. It’s not clear what will happen to the property after that point.

“The City is committed to working closely with the local community to ensure support for this important program and to meet the needs of local neighbours”./

That quote comes right off the CoV’s information circular, and you have to love it. Hopefully, the needs of “local neighbours” (is there some other kind?) won’t conflict with this plan, because, well, the plan is going ahead. The property has been purchased and it’s going into use next month. There is an Open House scheduled for December 11, but it doesn’t look as if neighbours will have any sort of veto power should their needs and the project conflict.

Don’t get me wrong. Temporary housing for the homeless is important, and if a society wants that there will be some discomfiture. We’ve talked about the whole city sharing the burden, rather than just the DTES, so it seems fair that the far north-eastern edge get’s it’s share. A purpose built hotel seems like a pretty good plug and play solution, so from an efficiency point of view it looks like a good plan. I suspect that there will be fewer problems with this site than there were with downtown sites in the past (it sounds as if these rooms will not be used for the hard to house, for example, but for people who have already been in CoV housing).

However, “the insolence of office” is obvious here. Local neighbours can go to the open house, have their questions answered, learn about specifics, meet the operator (who that is is yet to be determined), and speak with city staff.

What’s missing, of course, is whether locals want the project or not. The insolence of office consists in city staff describing presenting a fait accompli as being “committed to working closely with the local community”; we’ve seen this with other instances of where the CoV sought community input, only to disregard it.

We will see how things progress.

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