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Temporary modular housing approved for West 2nd Avenue

April 9 2018 Development permit approved for 52 new homes for Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents

View of modular home at 220 Terminal Ave

The director of Planning for the City of Vancouver, Gil Kelley, announced the approval of a development permit to build 52 new temporary modular housing units at 595 and 599 West 2nd Avenue, adjacent to Ash Street. This development will provide safe and stable housing for individuals who are presently homeless, with the priority being homeless people living in the local neighbourhood. The homes are part of a $66 million commitment from the Government of British Columbia towards building 600 new units of temporary modular housing to address the immediate needs of homeless residents in Vancouver.

Building overview

The temporary modular housing building, which will contain 52 units, will be constructed by Horizon North. Each new home will be 320 square feet and contain a kitchenette, bathroom, and living/sleeping area. A total of 6 units will be wheelchair accessible. Each unit has individual heating and cooling allowing the residents autonomy in their living spaces. The building will also include a large amenity space with a commercial kitchen to encourage social interaction and provide a communal space for the residents to gather. There will also be common laundry facilities, an administration office, and meeting rooms for the staff and residents to use to provide support for the residents in an independent but supported lifestyle. It is anticipated construction will start in the middle of April and the building will open in August. 

Housing operator

BC Housing has selected PHS Community Services Society (PHS) as the non-profit housing operator to:

  • Oversee tenanting and management of the building
  • Provide support services to the tenants 24/7, including life skills training, volunteer work, employment preparation and connections to community-based programs

PHS is an experienced supportive and low-income housing provider with 27 years of experience in Vancouver.

Public consultation

As part of the development permit process the City hosted two community information sessions with approximately 280 people attending.

City staff also connected with many organizations in the community, including:

  • False Creek South Neighbourhood Association
  • False Creek Elementary school administration and Parent Advisory Committee (PAC)
  • Vancouver Police Department

As well the community liaison for temporary modular housing conducted neighbourhood walkabouts and met with representatives from a number of businesses in the vicinity and reached out to the local business improvement association.

For public response to this project, the City received approximately 120 comment cards and about 90 emails in both support and opposition.

Of the comments received, there was general concern about:

  • Improvements of a pedestrian walkway in the area
  • A lack of sufficient lighting throughout and around the site
  • Proximity to other social housing in the area
  • Proximity to a future skate park
  • The perceived negative impacts of homeless residents
  • The selection process for tenants

Of those in support, there was acknowledgement for the City in taking the initiative to deliver this type of housing and address the homelessness crisis.  

New community advisory committee to relay information and dialogue

In approving the development permit for 595 and 599 West 2nd Avenue temporary modular housing application, the director of Planning acknowledged the community’s feedback and set a number of conditions of approval to specifically address the concerns raised, with particular regard to how the new building will successfully function within the community.

As a condition of approval, a community advisory committee (CAC) will be established to provide an ongoing forum for information sharing and dialogue between the community and the program partners. It will be comprised of:

  • PHS
  • The housing operator
  • Community members
  • Representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, Vancouver Police Department, and the City of Vancouver.

The community liaison is available for ongoing community questions during the construction phase until the CAC is convened prior to completion.  

Temporary modular housing projects across Vancouver

There are approximately 300 units of temporary modular housing in progress:

  • Approved units (260)
    • 7430 & 7460 Heather Street (78 units that have been built)
    • 1115, 1131, 1141 Franklin Street (39 units under construction)
    • 501 Powell (39 units under construction)
    • 4480 (formerly 4410) Kaslo Street (52 units)
    • 595 & 599 West 2nd Avenue (52 units)
  • Pre-development permit application (approximately 50 units)
    • A parcel of land at the Little Mountain development site

Learn more about temporary modular housing