GWAC Public Meeting
Monday, 4 June 2018
Learning Resource Centre (Britannia Library)
1st & Clark Detox and Affordable Housing Proposal
Special Guest Speakers and Contributors:
James Forsyth – Regional Director, BC Housing
Bonnie Wilson, – Director, Vancouver Coastal Health
Allison Dunnet – Senior Planner, Affordable Housing, City of Vancouver
Emme Lee – Development Manager, BC Housing
Mary Clare Zak – Managing Director, Social Policy & Projects, City of Vancouver
Smadar Levinson, – Manager, Vancouver Coastal Health
Ulrich Geissler, – Senior Project Design Architect, HDR | CEI Architects
Blaire Chishom – Vice President, Brook Pooni Associates
Dan Watson – Planner, Brook Pooni Associates
The meeting began at 7:06 pm
D. Cromie welcomed members of the public and special guests.
June 2 FortisBc Open House Meeting Minutes (May 29, Croatian Cultural Centre) posted on line www.gwac.cc
June 5 City Council to Vote on Policy Reports on rezoning 11th & Victoria; Increase Housing Choice in GW (4 storeys), voting on the policy reports (could be referred to a future public meeting)
June 10 Italian Day on the Drive 12 to 8 pm
June 11 1st & Clark Health, Wellness, and Social Enterprise Centre Proposal Open House, 5 to 7:30 pm, Room 1236, Building B, 1155 E. Broadway (access off East 7th Avenue)
June 14 Grandview Garden Club. Learning Resource Centre, Britannia Library, 7 to 9 pm.
June 16 Great Grandview Garage Sale, 10 to 2 pm, across the GW neighbourhood. To register or to find the sales go to www.greatgrandview.ca
June 17 Grandview Garden Tour, 10 to 4 pm. Tickets $15 (at Figaro’s). Ticket sales donated to the upkeep of the Napier Greenway, maintained by volunteers.
June 21 Grandview Heritage Group, 7 to 9 pm. Britannia Boardroom.
D. Cromie passed the floor to James Forsyth who went over the reasons and desperate need for a new detox facility, affordable housing, and social enterprise centre in Vancouver. He explained that the proposed location offers easy and convenient access to transportation links, services, and amenities and is close to downtown. The tripartite alignment (BC Housing, Coastal Health, and the City of Vancouver) offer a unique opportunity and allows a partnership that will provide best practices in housing and health. There will be 51 withdrawal beds, 20 of which are transitional beds; the current detox centre has 24 beds.
The social enterprise aspect of the proposal devotes space to Indigenous non-profit services and amenities, thereby supporting provincial and municipal goals of reconciliation. Indigenous artists will contribute to the design of this space, too.
BC Housing is often asked, “Why are you doing this?” In short, there’s a housing crisis caused by inadequate access and low vacancy rates (.4% in Vancouver); 46% are paying more than 30% of their income on rent while 25% are paying more than 50% on their income for housing.
BC Provincial Government Affordable Rental Housing Program target 1700 units of permanent, rental product designed for low to moderate income households (seniors, disabled, and families).
BC Housing, partnering with the City, to discuss the requirement that one-third of the units to meet City’s the 1 bedroom for $1,000 per month
The proposed mixed-use centre at 1st and Clark is one of many projects across the province, and this one includes Indigenous groups, housing, and cultural input.
Bonnie Wilson, who is one of the planners of the Withdrawal/Detox Facility, says the current detox facility was originally the City Dog Pound. She encourages people to drive or walk by to see how small the current detox centre’s foot print is; its small size means operators can’t build up or out; they have to move. The current facility is too small to manage the needs, and a larger site will allow for better management and increased staffing. Presently, the space is sorely inadequate. Staff cannot offer dignity or respect to those who are going through a hard time.
A new facility will combine a variety of services: 51 beds, 20 units of transitional housing to bridge services between levels of care. Bring together access services—issues with substances make it difficult to navigate services (expertise, professional services).The goal to create a seamless system and to be a centre of excellence. Academic teaching and learning will also be available on site.
What is this facility based upon? Is it good to combine these services? YES. Are there others in a residential area? Yes. Victoria has a model similar to this proposal. Portland and Surrey also have community-based services, with access to schools, daycares, shops, etc. (residences came later, however). This proposal is for a health care service.
Timeline: Continued public engagement. Open House at VCC coming on June 11th, 5 to 7:30 pm, at VCC, 1155 East Broadway, Building B, Room 1236 (access off E. 7th Avenue).
Floor opens to questions
Generally, the questions and comments from the floor focused on a few main themes:
- Safety. How/Who will ensure safety for current residents, school children, in particular. What about discarded needles, drug dealers who will surely prey upon the centre’s clients? Sgt. Mark Bradshaw, VPD, Patrol Supervisor, commented that Incident Calls for Service are available. Shift rotation at 2nd Avenue reveals the VPD does not get many calls for service from the Sobering Centre or from others (neighbours/businesses) in the area. Non-violent people only are brought to the 2nd Avenue Detox Facility; those who are violent or who have a history of violence, go directly to jail to sober up. Will get the incident history for the questioner. What about recidivism? Baptist Tower has started to move in people who are transitioning. The presenters speak as though the project is a done deal. It’s a Portland Hotel scheme on a grand scale, on an industrial scale. Many felt that all the focus is on “affordable housing” when the problem rests with the substance abusers. Some believe the presenters are glossing over potential serious problems. Safety of school children is big concern for neighbours. The VSB has been sent information and asked to contribute to the discussion. This neighbourhood’s public school situation cannot be compared to that of St. Francis of Xavier, which is isolated from the current East 2nd Detox facility by a protective “moat” of roadway, by concrete walls that flank sidewalks, and by parent-guards at entrance to a huge parking lot (required because very few students walk to this school).
- Services/Process. This is not supportive housing. Twenty transitional beds. Fifty-one withdrawal beds. Still have access to services and staff. Clients need support in their sobriety, and will spend up to thirty days in the withdrawal beds, then move to transitional bed or directly to their homes. Not everybody goes to a transitional bed/housing. People who come want to get help, are ready to receive help. They want to get away from the drug environment. We try to support them in this desire. Granted, the size of the proposal is different from the other centres we have noted. Housing will be attached, conjoined with the new detox centre. The current site has buildings around the detox centre, unattached.
- Traffic and Parking. Increasing traffic and parking problems in an already busy intersection/area must be addressed. People will be at risk owing to the amount of traffic on both 1st Avenue and Clark Drive; there are concerns about intoxicated people wandering into the streets). Parking and traffic studies are incomplete and on-going. A traffic consultant initially recommended 36 underground parking spaces, but that number needs to be revised upwards. Note: There is not one-for-one parking on current site. Consult the architects’ drawings on the City webpage for more details on traffic, parking, landscaping, etc.
- Location, Size, and Cost of Project. Someone needs to justify the location and size of the proposal. Why not adjacent to the proposed new St. Paul’s Hospital, where there is a great deal of space? (Most of their clients are capable of being served off the health care campus or hospital. Proponents of this proposal want to preserve St. Paul’s adjacency for health care that needs it—MRI, Cardio, etc.). Why not create smaller units to be places elsewhere? Concern that $16 million has been shifted into this proposed site.
- Grandview Woodland Community Plan/Pace of Change. The proposal supports the GWCP’s call for affordable housing. Trying to ensure that pace of demolition of rental units is monitored. Set number of units. Unique opportunity that BC Housing, Health etc. have seized (but it seems they are working outside the OCP). Policies at Council will be weighed and considered. City sees this as a valuable opportunity. Layer policies to move forward. The OCP says no RM or RM-4N (purpose-built rental units) will be considered until after the three-year period lapses. Data collected and analysis completed before changes to policy. YET, the city is ignoring/overriding the policy. The project’s Form and Massing in RM-4N simply does not match the GW OCP, neither does the height and density match the definition of the 6-storey owner initiated rezoning (for the limited number of applications that could be considered under pace of change). The Vancouver Charter provides opportunities for affordable housing, and the City should make the case under the Charter. Stop beating around the bush about the nature of the plan. $81 million of public monies are being spent on this proposal. WHY would the City just ignore the plan? Pace of Displacement of units usually one for one. Secured for the life of the building. A 97-unit family housing complex will replace three houses and a small apartment building. This is a challenge to City Council
- Livability. What about the already-busy streets and the loss of public green space? The proposed elevated green (on the sixth floor of the housing units) does not feel like genuine public space, for it will be used almost exclusively by those who live, use, or work at the facility because only they will know it exists. The ten-story building dwarfs any other structure around it, as does the six-storey residences. What about shadowing from the buildings, and the loss of city views?
- Rush to Approval. Why the hurry? Clearly a lack of information/study here. Is this the right place? The best place? What about the high cost. There is lots of non-market housing already in GW. It seems there are agendas other than the “do-good stuff “you are presenting. It all seems political. (This project has been in the works for several years. Feedback will be gathered and questions answered. BC Government has declared the housing crisis. We are trying to address an immediate need. We are going through a process; City of Vancouver is acting as a regulator to ensure that we are going through the process).
- Staffing. Current detox facility on 2nd Avenue Full Time Equivalency (FTE) is not as robust as in a hospital setting. Daily shift sees six people working, plus another 10 who come in and out, one would expect to double that at the new facility. Typically, there are no visitors. Clients do not come and go but stay on site, so there will be no additional traffic caused by them.
- Integration with the neighbourhood. One person, hoping his question would not be considered “lightweight,” asked, “How does the proposed building fit with the ’vibe of the Drive?’” At the first Open House (VCC, April 23rd), presenters had limited time to discuss this question. Today, they have more information about landscape design. For example, the walkway along 1st Avenue, will be made more attractive for the neighbours, with trees and greening. The landscape plan is not yet finished; it is still early days of design for the streetscape. In terms of cultural integration, indigenous groups have be asked to create a mural. Will there be plans for bicycle crossing and other infrastructure?
- Effect on an established neighbourhood and its residents. A long-time resident of the area (52 years) who lives across the lane from the proposed development commented on the changes he has seen in this neighbourhood. Traffic and traffic accidents have increased a great deal. Long-time residents are leaving, being displaced by the new housing coming in. They are given right of first refusal on the new units, but what do they do while they wait, and will they even be able to afford the new units? He spoke of a reclaimed green space at the corner of Clark and 1st (in the 1950s) will be lost and not replaced. He wondered why the Downtown East Side, Strathcona, and Grandview Woodland, which have the highest ratios of social housing in the city, must be supersaturated with social housing (the presenters said that with this project, in fact, GW—now third on the list—will be equivalent to Killarney in terms of social housing).
A couple of speakers felt misled by the information offered and focused on by the presenters. Speakers lamented the rosy picture the presenters painted this evening. In response, Bonnie Wilson responded, saying that she and her colleagues were “trying to answer as honestly and as genuinely as we can.”
With those final comments, D. Cromie thanked the guests and the audience and closed the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 9:05 pm.
GWAC notice of June 4th meeting
Rezoning Centre City of Vancouver
Grandview-Woodland Community Plan
Memorandum of Understanding (dated June 28, 2017 and signed December 21, 2017 pages 10-19, City Staff Administrative Report dated April 19, 2018 pages 1-9)