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Protestors promise to camp out as Little Mountain demolition begins

November 8th, 2009 · 22 Comments

The pre-construction fencing has been up around the Little Mountain site the last couple of weeks, but demolition only officially started on Friday. At that point, it sounded like protests would be minor.

This notice below, though, went out on Saturday from protesters planning to camp out on site. The city and province have to be sweating at the thought that this could turn into a major protest scene. I’ll be waiting to see myself what develops here.

   

IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                              7 NOV 2009

Vancouver, BC                                   `                                                           Contact Lauren Gill

“NEVER AGAIN!”–      

  HOUSING ADVOCATES TENTING

      AT LITTLE MOUNTAIN DEMOLITION SITE

 At 8 o’clock tonight, housing advocates established an encampment on Main Street on the grounds of the Little Mountain Housing complex.  The location is right beside BC Housing’s “Relocation/Demolition” office.

 The campers are protesting the:

  •  Proposed sale of 15 acres of prime public land to Holborn, a private developer
  •  BC Housing pressure tactics that caused all but eight families to leave
  •  Continuing absence of a development plan or consultation schedule
  •  10-year completion delay announced by Holborn CEO Joo Kim Tiah yesterday
  •  Needless displacement, dispersal, and destruction of a vibrant and supportive community
  •  Vague promise of “half the net profit” being used for social housing elsewhere
  •  Premature destruction of scores of affordable homes in the midst of a housing crisis
  •  The excess profit Holborn will make if City Council allows Tiah to build  

4 to 5 times more high-end condos than social housing units.

 The campers warn that other public housing complexes are being targeted by the government for similar treatment.  Jeff Crawford said “tenants at Skeena Terrace and Orchard Park housing complexes are at risk if the provincial government decides to redevelop their housing by privatizing the land and giving a private developer control of the process.”

 On Friday at Little Mountain, two bulldozers with jaws reaching to four storeys tore down and pulverized the first  building in BC Housing’s Little Mountain Demolition Plan.  The building, near 33rd and Ontario, contained six apartments.

 Another camper, Sandra Dunn, observed that this approach represents a return to old discredited methods of “urban renewal” in the previous century.  “It’s demolish first, get the money—and plan later.”

 Camper Lauren Blair said campers are officially invited guests of some of the eight remaining families, and are therefore acting within their legal rights.  She said she expects significant support from the public and that the encampment is likely to remain indefinitely.

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  • What oh! This item has been up for, what, two days and not one posts!

    Too busy gossiping about some scandal in a tea cup . . .

    As we used to say in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, “I don’t give a shit, Jack . . . I’m inboard.”

    An off shore, bespoke thug flies into town and proceeds to demolish perfectly serviceable, much needed, historic, social affordable housing and not a peep from the squabbling civic partiers.

    The thug promises to maybe, perhaps replace some of the social affordable housing sometime in the future, may be, huh maybe, so he can build a 70 storey risible cliché downtown: and even that may turn out to be a lemon before the suits flip it.

    I certainly hope I will be inboard for the duration . . . I dunno about you . . . maybe you all should take care . . .

    Well . . . I wish the campers all the best, good luck and success. What you are doing in this rainy city may one day help us all.

    You set a standard for this somewhat smug community . . .

  • Denis

    People must be getting tired, by now of Gordo and his sidekick Coleman ignoring anyone who isn’t in their circle of friends. A similar thing happened a number of years ago as veterna’s housing on West Broadway, and 4th ave wehre left to run down till gosh folks the buildings arn’t worth keeping .But not to worry we will build newer better ones. New for sure, smaller for sure. some of the propery manages to get sold, just like is happening now.

  • Chris B

    Wasn’t that also te BC Libs modus operandi on BC Rail? Make it so no one wanted to use the passenger service, n order to shut it down (cause nobody took it) and then, golly gee, we can sell (or do I mean lease for 999 years?) the railway…

  • Well, I’ll pipe in, especially since I was involved with the Veterans’ properties on 4th, B’way and New West and a competing proposal on Little Mountain.

    In response to the press release:

    * Proposed sale of 15 acres of prime public land to Holborn, a private developer

    The terms of the sale require a one for one replacement of all of the old run down social housing units with new units built to today’s standards and environmental requirements; in addition, the developer has offered to pay a very considerable sum of money to the city and province. millions and millions and millions.

    * BC Housing pressure tactics that caused all but eight families to leave

    While I didn’t think it was necessary to vacate the entire project at once, I can’t believe how patient and understanding BC Housing has been. It has been very fair to the residents, not only facilitating relocation to new housing, but also allowing residents to return to new units at essentially the same cost.

    * Continuing absence of a development plan or consultation schedule

    This may be true. I have not been party to the discussions between the developer and his team and the city or province. But I know who the architects are, and they are very experienced in creating a thoughtful and effective consultation process.

    * 10-year completion delay announced by Holborn CEO Joo Kim Tiah yesterday

    What Holborn said was they would proceed with the social housing, but the market housing and total development could take 10 years to complete. At least they are being realistic and honest. Their concept plan includes a significant number of units, more than the Bayshore development, that I managed, and which took more than 10 years to complete.

    * Needless displacement, dispersal, and destruction of a vibrant and supportive community.

    This is not true at all.

    * Vague promise of “half the net profit” being used for social housing elsewhere

    It’s not a vague promise. That’s the underlying rationale for the regeneration of older public housing projects. My understanding is that more of the money will eventually find its way back to other social housing projects.

    * Premature destruction of scores of affordable homes in the midst of a housing crisis

    I agree that a phased relocation would have been better. But there was a concern that residents would not move out when required and thus halt the development process. The actions of the dissidents seem to be confirming this fear.

    * The excess profit Holborn will make if City Council allows Tiah to build

    Let’s get real here. Holborn offered much too much money for this property. Just as many thought that Millennium offered too much money. Hopefully they will ultimately make a profit, but let’s ensure that the city and province get exactly what they were promised.

    I feel very strongly about this, since many good developers spent a lot of time and money submitting competing projects. Holborn offered more and won. But if they are somehow allowed to walk away from their commitment I for one will be yelling and screaming.

    There’s a chance that Holborn won’t make any money, given what they offered to pay. But I hope they do get approvals and make some money….as long as the public gets paid first.

    And as for the Veteran’s housing, all of the veterans were re-housed in new units and a lot of young families were able to move into affordable new coop housing as part of the redevelopments in Vancouver and New Westminster. Just go down to 8th and McBride and see the wonderful new community that was created. Yes, it looks a bit like Whistler, but it’s very popular.

  • Mira

    Right on Urbanismo!
    Lo0king at the previous post (44 comments) I can not believe what a bunch of sorry asses populates this blog. I for one did not post anything of substance for the time being because I said a lot in the past and there was not much debate. It feels like everyone is in on the con.
    The whole surrounding neighborhood is guilty by association for letting this to happen too, see, they were hoping, in their greediness that they will make some $$ after the Elected Officials legally run their less fortunate neighbors out of town so that THE NEW, IMPROVED, INFLATED development will bring them ALL prosperity and monetary happiness.
    If anyone is thirsty for more background check Frances older post on Little Mountain (City, province avoid a mess at Little Mountain
    September 22nd, 2009 ).
    On the other hand, if what I read in the above press release is true, than these people are true heroes for doing what they are doing.
    The Province (Campbell, Coleman…), The City (Vancouver No Vision, Robertson, Louie Reimer…) and BC HOUSING (misc. incompetents) ran away from this self made problem like bandits after a Break and Enter followed by a Gang Rape. DESPICABLE!
    I only wonder what the perpetual apologist Michael Geller might say now.
    Blame it on the butler?

  • rf

    that you are an idiot for using an analogy like gang rape?…..

  • eleanor

    Mira – your unnecessary smear of Michael is over the line. Referring to this process as a break and enter and gang rape is inappropriate. You claim to want to add substance to the discussion, yet your arguments are so cloaked in hostility that your points are ineffective. Take a breath, try a rewind, and offer something of value to the discussion.

  • grumbelschmoll

    When a developer pays too much for development rights, the developer’s problems of making money on the deal become the city’s/community’s problems. Olympic Village comes to mind.

    One result is a long renegotiating process to make the development more lucrative, an activity aka known as planning. More height, more density. Little Mountain will look like False Creek without the water and without the downtown excuse.

    And yes, to vacate perfectly livable units years before they they are demolished in the midst of a ghastly housing crisis is inexcusable. It makes me question if any of the decision makers care about the social impacts of their decisions.

  • “Well, I’ll pipe in”

    Well Michael Gelding: probably a better idea you do not!

    The “four storey bucket loader” currently doing its thing on Little Mountain is just another example of our habit of the wonton destruction we have become addicted to during those heady decades of . . . errrrr . . . hummmm “prosperity”.

    As this current depression bites in, despite forlorn hope of “green shoots”, we are going to have to divest ourselves of our wonton, capricious, destructively wasteful habits.

    Imagine, the Romans whimsically destroying Hadrian’s Wall just because they had the toys for fat men in suites to play with them.

  • Urbanismo, there is no doubt that often the most sustainable building is a re-used building. The re-use of buildings in Gastown and Chinatown is a good example of this. Another good example is the former Chilliwack army base which has now been redeveloped as Garrison Crossing. (While it is a long way away for many of us, it is definitely worth a visit for the manner in which it has refurbished older housing units and created a truly regenerated community.)

    Perhaps a little history may be of interest. When I was at CMHC back in 1979 and 1980, I was very involved with a national study of the regeneration of older public housing projects. The goal was to determine how best to replace aging stock, and address some of the social issues that had arisen, given a very high concentration of oftentimes very low income and troubled people (especially in Metro Toronto), in a cost-effective and exemplary planning manner.

    Studies looked at a number of sites on an individual basis with particular regard to the state of the housing, the form of the housing (ie townhouses or apartments), the density of the development relative to the location and surrounding development, and other considerations. (Little Mountain, Skeena Terrace and Raymur Place were Vancouver Properties.

    All of us agreed that while townhouses often had potential for refurbishing, with opportunities for sensitive infill nearby, the older two and three level walk-up apartment buildings were usually not worth saving, except in some Eastern Canadian locations.

    We also agreed that the best strategy was to introduce some alternative housing…co-ops, rental housing, affordable and higher income market housing to broaden the social and economic mix, just as many were proposing for the new large scale redevelopment projects (eg False Creek, St. Lawrence). However, in this case we would be adding higher income people into low income communities, rather than accommodating lower income people in otherwise higher income communities.

    There were a number of potential development strategies identified: The sites could be redeveloped by city or provincial governments, or subdivided and sold off in part, or in some cases sold as one large parcel where it made sense to completely re-plan and redevelop a property.

    While we were confident that we identified some good opportunities and strategies, few politicians were willing to take on what was seen as a politically challenging situation; to be seen to be forcing low income people out of their homes, etc. especially given the memory of the massive, insensitive urban renewal projects of the 50’s and 60’s. And so, with few exceptions, nothing happened.

    Until recently. Regent Park is now being redeveloped in Toronto http://www.torontohousing.ca/regentpark
    and Little Mountain is being redeveloped in Vancouver.

    In Toronto, the site was not sold in one block; instead it is being redeveloped as a joint venture between the city’s housing corporation and Daniels Corporation, a private developer. You might want to visit the website to see the strategy that was followed and the form of development, some very tall high density buildings, being phased through the site, with a very effective community consultation process involving not just the older residents, but the CHILDREN of longstanding residents.

    In Vancouver we do not have a housing department that could have taken the lead like Toronto. However, the planning department did set out some planning principles before the property was offered for sale.

    In my opinion, it might have been preferable for the city and province to have prepared an overall plan for the site, working with the residents and neighbours. However, there did not seem to be an appetite, nor staffing and funding to do this. Also, I suspect there was a concern that the final form of development would not maximize the value of the property. Given that the revenues from the development would be used to fund replacement social housing on-site, and off-site, this was a legitimate concern.

    So the decision was made to sell the entire site, with ‘vacant possession’. A number of development teams were short-listed. I was very proud of the plan that was developed by our team. I had met with Ned Jacobs on a few occasions and Ingrid (a long time resident) and other residents and while I knew they preferred no buildings over 4 stories, taller buildings could have a place in the development.

    It is my understanding that the scheme that was selected is at a much higher density than what we were proposing. However, given the proximity of the site to the adjacent park, the new Canada Line transit, and the Main Street commercial, with careful design, it could be possible to create an entirely new community on the site, with a mix of housing, a community energy system, a new community pass transit program, and other community amenities.

    This Urbanismo, is why the approach taken, while not entirely the one I would have recommended, still has the potential to be a much more sustainable neighbourhood housing solution than simply keeping and renovating the rotting older walk-up buildings.

    Now it’s time for more coffee.

  • Thanqu Michael for your comprehensive over view . . . I appreciate.

    My concern remains. Correct me if I am wrong . . . Holborn is looking to a ten year time frame . . . in face of a severe affordable housing situation . . . unacceptable!

  • Urbanismo, they have indicated that they are willing to include non-market housing in the first phases, and I expect that the planning department will make this a condition of rezoning.

  • Joseph Jones

    Michael Geller: So the decision was made to sell the entire [Little Mountain] site, with ‘vacant possession’.

    How similar to the handover of False Creek territory after Expo 86. So wonderful to have these hallmark events putting our city on the map and helping short-sighted profiteers to sell it out.

    Till now I’ve been occupied with visiting ground zero, envisioning that Olympic parking lot, and regretting the functional shelter that could have stood for another ten years.

    A dozen comments, and nothing but silence on the destructive Olympic agenda.

  • Glissando Remmy

    Tomorrow 11th of November, 2009 is Remembrance Day – is a day to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war, specifically since the WWI. It is observed on 11 November to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918. Major hostilities of WWI were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.
    Little Mountain, B.C.’s first social housing community was constructed in 1954 and it was meant as permanent housing, in response to WWII veterans demanding affordable places to live with their families.
    “Needless displacement, dispersal, and destruction of a vibrant and supportive community.” This is not true at all.” – Michael Geller
    How so Michael? A small group of families made out of WWII veterans and their families are OK to be displaced and to add insult to injury you are saying they did not form a vibrant and supportive community? That’s simply just SICK! According to your philosophy if we are to bulldoze your house next month and send you packing to New Westminster you would have no problem, right? I don’t know, I may be wrong but I think in your case, your own statement might be true! I know is human nature to be more inclined to the money aspect than to the social one, but for once in a while could you spare us with your “expert” analysis?
    I need to say no more or Eleanor might start patronizing me too, not that I care.
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Not Running for Mayor

    Seems like someone decided to light the place on fire. Bet there will be lots of finger pointing tomorrow

  • VANCOUVER – By The Vancouver Sun
    March 21, 2007
    The city’s oldest public housing project is headed for a massive redevelopment that will transform it into a mix of private and social housing, with significant anticipated profits for the province.

    It is the first of what some anticipate will become a provincewide approach to replacing postwar social housing and generating money for new projects.

    Vancouver city planning director Brent Toderian confirmed this week that the province has approached the city about a redevelopment for Little Mountain social housing, which would increase the site’s density by at least six times, if not more.

    Little Mountain, built in 1954 and home to about 800 people, sits on six hectares of prime land near Queen Elizabeth Park in central Vancouver.

    “The province has made clear its aspirations,” said Toderian. “And it is certainly thinking about opportunities that may exceed the current zoning.”

    Toderian, city councillors and housing advocates all say the idea of redevelopment is exciting and needed. But they all want to see the province meet certain conditions in order to do it.

    That includes providing at least as many social-housing units as exist now, if not more; building a complete new neighbourhood with amenities; and making sure that existing tenants are housed during any dislocation, with the right to move back.

    Housing Minister Rich Coleman has been talking for months to various parties, indicating he would like to sell off portions of the land that B.C.-owned social housing now sits on in order to finance the redevelopment of its aging stock.

    Toronto recently decided to redevelop its largest social-housing project, Regent Park, although it is maintaining control of the land. But private developers will rebuild the massive project one phase at a time, with the end result that 2,083 social housing units will be replaced by a mix of about 2,000 social housing units and 2,500 market ones.

    Little Mountain, the oldest social housing project in B.C. and also the one with the least existing housing and most available land, is the first and prime candidate in line for that kind of redevelopment.

    B.C. got control of Little Mountain last June, when the federal government handed over the 17,300 social housing units in its portfolio to B.C. as part of its 15-year effort to get out of social housing.

    Coleman, who has talked about putting as many as 2,000 units on the land, did not return a call from The Vancouver Sun Tuesday.

    However, Toderian said the city is preparing a report to respond to the province’s proposal, scheduled to come to council by mid-April.

    The city’s housing centre director, Cameron Gray, said the six-hectare site now has only 225 residences. Current zoning would allow up to about 1,000 units in buildings of no more than four storeys.

    Going to 2,000 units would require a rezoning.

    Toderian said that kind of redevelopment will only happen if the new, dense neighbourhood provides a benefit for the city.

    “I would be disappointed if we weren’t taking this opportunity to create a sustainable community,” he said.

    Coun. Suzanne Anton, the city’s biggest advocate for its EcoDensity initiative, said she believes the province should be asked to put in more social housing units than now exist.

    “I think we should maximize the social-housing component,” she said. “Given the history of the site, we should have more than the status quo.”

    Alice Sundberg, executive director of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association, said people in her sector are watching this development closely.

    They want to see the province not just replace existing units, but make sure those units go to the same mix of people they did before.

    “A big problem to us is that [provincial politicians] don’t care about family housing any more.

    “Our association has always been in support of redevelopment and intensifying sites to pay for that redevelopment. But what’s going to happen to the families that used to live there?”

    Sundberg said the B.C. government has moved increasingly to providing housing only for people who have special needs, not low-income families, except through rent supplements, which she says don’t work well in a tight housing market such as Vancouver’s.

    That’s something Magdalena Ayala knows about.

    Ayala has lived at Little Mountain for 19 years. She and her husband and four children live in a three-bedroom townhouse, paying about $900 a month rent when none of their children is working.

    That $900 is 30 per cent of the income in her household, between her job as an office cleaner and her husband’s construction job at the Concord Pacific towers going up over Costco downtown.

    “Everybody says to me, ‘Magdalena, where you live is the best.’

    ” It’s peaceful, there is shopping, everything nearby.”

    She can’t imagine finding anything with the kind of space she has now (the townhouses include a basement) in the neighbourhood or, in fact, anywhere else in the Lower Mainland.

    Her neighbour, Ingrid Steenhuisen, agrees.

    Steenhuisen, whose family moved into the complex when she was a baby in 1957, said it’s always been the kind of housing that worked well for families, giving them a chance to get on their feet economically and well designed for families.

    All the kitchens look out over children’s play areas so parents can watch over their children while making meals.

    Steenhuisen hasn’t been able to get any information from B.C. Housing about what will happen to Little Mountain.

    “It has all been rumour. I’ve been trying to get answers since last June.

    “This has always been a great place to live for families and we would like to keep that.”

    fbula@png.canwest.com

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    But what are the profit margins for developers in Vancouver? Something like 15%, right? Whereas most of the rest of N. America it is closer to 5%. Bear that in mind the next time you hear a developer like Holborn whine that they can’t make enough money and therefore must “renegotiate”. What they are really saying is that “we can’t make the obscene profit margins that we’ve all grown used to” after the Decades of Beasley, torch now passed to Toderian.

  • Glissando Remmy

    Excerpts from: “Media granted Olympic Village sneak peak”
    By Cheryl Rossi, Vancouver Courier
    Published: Friday, November 06, 2009

    1 “The village includes 737 market condos, of which 263 have sold, 120 market rental apartments and 250 proposed affordable housing apartments.”
    2 “The condo buildings are striving for LEED Gold. They will reuse rainwater for toilets and irrigation and more than half have green roofs. The Net Zero Building, designed to be 64 units of affordable housing for seniors, is topped with huge solar thermal hot water panels that will generate heat equivalent to 90 per cent of the building’s annual energy consumption.”
    3 “Reporters were shown a 1,779-square-foot, ninth-floor, three-bedroom condo with 400 square feet of patio space. For now, the island in the kitchen that’s open to the living room and all the kitchen fixtures are covered with wheat board. After the athletes leave, the tiled carpet will be ripped out and replaced with hardwood flooring and a third layer of stark white paint will be applied to the walls.Bob Rennie, of Rennie Marketing Systems, expects to market the apartment for about $2 million next May once the village is returned to the city in April.” All of the units include portable energy consumption monitors for residents’ information. Rennie said energy savings will be evaluated in two years’ time.”
    4 “The fate of the 250 units proposed for social housing is expected to be determined by city council this month.”

    Comments to the above paragraphs:
    1 WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY known as “250 AFFORDABLE HOUSING APARTMENTS” HAVE NOW BECOME “250 PROPOSED…” 
    2 THIS EXPLAINS WHERE ALL THE MONEY WENT. We will definitely LOOK GOOD IN THE EYES OF THE IOC. HOWEVER, WE’LL END UP DEALING IN IOU BANKNOTES. The legacy of this mega project was supposed to be an integrated community, people from all walks of life, incomes, backgrounds, living together in harmony. If the social element will be scrapped the legacy will be flushed down the low flow sustainable toilets. LEED Platinum of course!
    3 THIS IS IT (NOT MICHAEL JACKSON’s DVD). MONEY, MONEY, MONEY per square foot. The only “t-ree-al” estates not peddled by Rennie are the heron’s nests up in the trees across from the Park Board building at the edge of Stanley Park. He would sell those too if he could; to an offshore heron investor, of course. 
    4 NOT DECIDED, STILL. What a lot of BS. A bunch of self serving politicians are going to “revisit” the matter. I’m asking …Why? I can’t believe we gave these people jobs… 

    In conclusion:
    Anybody interested can easily follow the entire chain of events and take the Olympic Village as future template for the political / development mess; the back-room deals, the deception, the corruption, the crass incompetence, and the partisan decision making. Why would anybody believe a single word of what the decision makers are telling us now, regarding the future Little Mountain development when they have no clue as what to do about the OV in a few weeks?
    Are you familiar with the story about the boy who cried wolf? If not, become. How long are the people of BC going to allow themselves to be lied to? Whoever expects some truthful answers from the official liars in Victoria or Vancouver is naive.
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • But what are the profit margins for developers in Vancouver? Something like 15%, right? Whereas most of the rest of N. America it is closer to 5%.

    GJG, where in the world did you get this information? It simply is not true. You may be confusing the return a developer looks for, as a percentage of total costs, when he’s creating a new DEVELOPMENT, and the INVESTMENT return on a completed project. (Sometimes referred as the Cap Rate.)

    BTW, most developers and their lenders would like to see a ‘proforma’ which sets out the revenues and costs projecting something closer to 20% when a project starts. The Cap rate that an investor will accept varies for product type, potential risks, etc. Some large pension funds may by a property if they think it will show a minimum 5% return, but most private investors are looking for something more, unless the property has redevelopment potential.

    The issue with Holborn’s purchase of Little Mountain, in my opinion, is they offered to pay too much for the property, because they were in a competition, an ‘auction’ if you like, which can often force someone to pay more than they should. By dragging the phasing out over a longer period of time, they probably think that they will have a better chance of recouping the high land payment.

  • david chudnovsky

    What has happened at Little Mountain is a disaster for several reasons. First, Little Mountain was, just more than 2 years ago, a successful and thriving community. Not only were the residents active and involved in their own neighbourhood, but unlike the situation in some social housing developments, they were integrated into the wider community in many ways. That successful community has been destroyed and there was no reason for that to happen. The residents and their supporters, from the beginning, called on Coleman and BC Housing to do the redevelopment in phases so that most of the people who lived there could stay until the redevelopment was complete.

    Second, the result of the decision not to phase the development was the emptying of 224 units of habitable housing in the midst of the worst crisis of homelessness since the Great Depression. Most of the units have been empty now for more than a year. The best case scenario is that the replacement social housing will be completed three years from now. Given the history of the 14 city social housing sites that were announced in November 2007, some of which were promised to be finished by the Olympics, is there anyone confident that the new Little Mountain social housing will be completed on schedule?

    Third, if we look at the Millenium fiasco it’s reasonable to be skeptical of the pledge by Holborn to build the social housing first. What happens if the economics of the deal change just like they did for Millenium? Will the government simply re-negotiate the deal so that we subsidize Holborn and the social housing ends up costing much more than it needed to?

    That’s one of the reasons why the structure of this deal was a mistake from the beginning. Why in the world does the government need to privatize land that belongs to the people of the province to build social housing? If they wanted to have a new park would they sell off nine-tenths of Queen Elizabeth Park and some day maybe buy land somewhere else for more parks and then tell us how clever they are? That’s what’s happening here. If the government felt it needed to derive a benefit from the land, they could easily have structured a deal that leased out parcels of the Little Mountain site and collected rent for ever. That way the province – that’s you and me – would have increased control over just what type of development would go in. And our children would have the same control the next the site time the site is redeveloped.

    Fourth, the Little Mountain site is huge. Why simply replace the 224 units of social housing that have been there since 1954? Do we really need 1200 or 1500 more expensive condos in Vancouver. Thousands of people are homeless and tens of thousands of working class and middle class families struggle to afford a place to live? Little Mountain could be a model, with 2 or 3 times the number of social housing units, co-ops and rental housing that people could afford to live in. But that isn’t Coleman’s or Campbell’s priority.

    The spin attached to all of this has been breathtaking. How many times has Coleman said that the units at Little Mountain are unsafe and not habitable? How many times did he reject the call from all over the community to spend a few thousand dollars on each of the units to upgrade them so that people desperately in need of housing would have someplace to live. It was impossible he said. So now what happens? BC housing upgrades a few of the units – for a few dollars each – so that the remaining tenants can stay for a while. That’s precisely what people have been suggesting for years and precisely what Coleman said was impossible for years.

    The other part of the spin is even more insidious. Coleman and BC Housing have peddled the notion – over and over – that critics of their ill-considered scheme are against any redevelopment. We’re ‘anti-progress’. We don’t ever want any change. This, of course, is hogwash. Virtually every one of Coleman’s critics have said EVERY TIME they’ve spoken on the issue, that redevelopment is a good idea if it’s done right. But Coleman keeps on spinning his tales and much of the media eats it up.

    One more point. The residents – both those who lived at Little Mountain and their neighbours – were promised meaningful consultation about what would happen on the site. There would be consultation with the developer, with the province, with BC Housing, with the city. None of that has happened. And consultation with the former residents is a dead issue now. They are scattered across the city and beyond. Let’s see how much real consultation there is from here on in. I expect neighbours will be asked for their input on the colour of the paint on the trim of the 224 social housing units and not much at all about the hundreds of high priced condos that will make up the overwhelming mass of the development.

    not habitable private
    consultation

  • Gassy Jack’s Ghost

    OK Michael, you know better than me about the nitty gritty numbers. But wasn’t it none other than Bob Rennie himself, speaking to a group of pros like you in his recent State of the Union address, who said that Vancouver’s developer margins where WAY TOO HIGH compared to the rest of North America, thus leading to the crisis of affordability?

  • GJG, I wasn’t at Rennie’s last address, but I’ll see him later today and ask him if he said this, and if so, what he meant. cheers