‘Poor doors’ and ‘poor playgrounds’: Vancouver development criticized for divisions between condos, social housing

Proposed Vancouver condo creates division
WATCH: A proposed condo development for Vancouver’s West End is creating controversy with divisions between the social housing component and everyone else. Grace Ke has the story.

A proposed condo building in Vancouver’s West End has drawn criticism for the division it appears to be creating between the social housing component of the building and other residents.

The proposed 30-storey building on the corner of Burnaby and Thurlow Streets would have 82 market residential units and 39 social housing units. It would also have an entrance for condo owners and an entrance for social housing, which have been referred to as “poor doors.”

In addition to separate entrances, it will also have separate playgrounds.

Another West End project faced similar criticism back in 2015. The 19-storey highrise planned to have condo owners access the building from Jervis St. while social housing residents would use a Davie St. entrance.

WATCH: Condo developer under fire for so-called ‘poor doors’

“We’re creating in the infrastructure a separation between the upper class and lower class, so to speak,” community activist Randy Helten said at the time. “It parallels other stuff that’s going on in society, like with health care and the education system and so on.”

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The city says from a legal and management perspective the separation at the Thurlow Street development makes sense.

Vancouver architect and developer Michael Geller agrees.

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“What we have here is a situation where a developer is agreeing to build some affordable housing units in return for approval to build the condominium units,” Geller said.

“So at the end of day, one portion of the building will be condominiums, owned, managed and, in some instances, the strata fees may even be higher than the rents in the other side of the building that likely will be managed by a non-profit or perhaps even B.C. Housing.”

Geller notes such developments are not new to Vancouver. The Woodwards building has one market and two social housing components each with its own entrances and amenities.

“What we’re creating are really two separate buildings with separate ownership and separate management,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s no different than any two buildings that are side by side.”

– With files from Grace Ke