Affordable rental development underway in Vancouver’s Little Mountain neighbourhood

Click to play video: 'Groundbreaking ceremony held for Little Mountain development but some still in opposition'
Groundbreaking ceremony held for Little Mountain development but some still in opposition
WATCH: Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, along with other city officials and developers held the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday morning for the Little Mountain development. – Apr 25, 2024

An affordable rental housing development in the making for more than 15 years is finally underway in Vancouver.

Vancouver city council and Mayor Ken Sim held the official groundbreaking event for the 48-unit rental building in the Little Mountain neighbourhood next to Queen Elizabeth Park on Thursday morning.

It is being built by Holborn Properties as part of a community amenity contribution.

“It is an important step in creating an inclusive neighbourhood with various types of housing for families of all income levels,” Sim said.

The six-story building will provide a mix of housing options, as well as a neighbourhood house, a childcare facility and a community plaza.

The site has largely sat empty for more than a decade after 234 former social housing units were destroyed on the 15-acre property.

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Click to play video: 'Vancouver City Council loosens requirements on Little Mountain project'
Vancouver City Council loosens requirements on Little Mountain project

“This project here has a long and checkered past, let’s just call it what it is,” Sim said. “We have the opportunity to do two things … we can litigate the past and come up with reasons why we can’t do it and get really positional, or we can say, ‘Look, there are a lot of people who need housing here and let’s make some hard decisions and let’s just drive forward.’”

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“The net outcome of that will be in the not-so-distant future more people will be able to afford to live in the neighbourhoods that they want to in the City of Vancouver.”

Previously, Holborn Properties said permit issues have held up construction at the site.

In 2009, about 700 long-time residents were forced out of the site and their units were demolished.

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Holborn closed its contract with the B.C. government in 2013, which saw involved buying the land for $331 million.

In that same deal, the province extended a $211 million loan to the company, which remains interest-free until 2026 and includes no construction timelines.

The City of Vancouver finally rezoned the land in 2016, and the city approved a development permit application for the southeast corner of the property in 2019.

So far, just one building with 53 social housing units has been delivered at the site.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver hoping to kick-start long-stalled Little Mountain development'
Vancouver hoping to kick-start long-stalled Little Mountain development

A former politician said the groundbreaking ceremony should have been an apology instead.

“I think this whole event this morning was in very bad taste. The mayor talked about it being a time for celebration — that’s preposterous,” David Chudnovsky, a former MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, said. “This is a place where a community was destroyed, 224 families lost their homes. It’s 17 years later. It should’ve been an apology from the mayor.”

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The City-owned building, located on East 36 Ave, will provide a mix of housing options, including 12 studio units, eight one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units, and 12 three-bedroom units. Accessible units will also be available for people living with disabilities as well.

A minimum of 30 per cent of the homes will be rented at or below housing income limits.

Chudnovsky said the new development is “too little, too late. It is mostly just replacement social housing on a huge vacant lot where we could have built three or four times as many social housing units. I have no confidence the developer, the same developer who told people that they were going to be in their new apartments in 2010.

According to the city, the Little Mountain neighbourhood has one of the highest ratios of households comprising young families with children under the age of six.

Construction is expected to be completed by the spring of 2026.

Click to play video: 'Details of Vancouver’s Little Mountain property sale released'
Details of Vancouver’s Little Mountain property sale released

— With files from Simon Little


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