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City of Vancouver approves controversial Marpole modular housing project

WATCH: Residents of Vancouver’s Marpole neighbourhood say they’re not opposed to a modular housing project, just its current location.

The City of Vancouver has given the green light to a controversial modular housing project in the Marpole neighbourhood.

The facility, which would see 78 units of transitional housing built for the city’s homeless, is to be situated next to three public schools.

LISTEN: Controversial modular housing project approved

That location has drawn vocal opposition from some in the neighbourhood, who argue it will bring drugs and crime to a school zone.

READ MORE: Marpole modular housing protester says Stanley Park is the best place for homeless people

In granting the conditional approval on Monday, the city’s development permit board placed several conditions on the planned facility, which City of Vancouver director of planning Gil Kelley said came in response to residents’ concerns.

The location of a temporary modular housing project for the homeless in Marpole.
The location of a temporary modular housing project for the homeless in Marpole. City of Vancouver

To that end, the project will have a Community Advisory Committee made up of local residents and parents. BC Housing will also be required to send periodic updates on the facility to the city.

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“The Community Advisory Committee is established in order to talk about everyday operations. If someone identifies a concern or problem, it would be a good place for the worry to be taken,” said City of Vancouver general manager of community service Katheleen Llewellyn-Thomas.

The city said the tenants for the new housing will also be chosen with an eye to fitting into the neighbourhood.

The planned housing project, to be located at West 59th Avenue and Heather Street, is adjacent to the Sir Wilfred Laurier Elementary, Ideal Mini Secondary and Churchill Secondary schools.

Students from that last school have been vocal in their support for the project, and have organized their own rally in support of the facility.

WATCH: Stanley Park is the best place for homeless, says Marpole protester

Stanley Park is the best place for homeless, says Marpole protester
Stanley Park is the best place for homeless, says Marpole protester

Kelley acknowledged that the proposal has been divisive, but said he hopes now that the project is going ahead cooler heads will prevail.

“People may or may not like the decision, but I think there will be a relief that a decision was made and a desire to move on and engage with the Community Advisory Committee,” Kelley said.

LISTEN: Churchill students speak out in favour of modular housing

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The Marpole project is the city’s second planned temporary modular housing facility, a program designed to take advantage of vacant city land and allow for the quick construction of new units.

The first facility, located at Main Street and Terminal Avenue, opened in early 2017.

READ MORE: ‘I’m not afraid’: Marpole students speak out in favour of modular housing

Two more projects are planned for Powell Street and Franklin Street in Vancouver’s northeast.

Earlier this fall, the provincial government announced that it would spend $66 million to build 600 units of modular housing across the province.