A new “by women, for women” building project announced by the federal government in Vancouver is getting mixed reviews from the community.
The proposal is for a housing, childcare and services facility devoted to women, which would also be designed by women with consultation from Vancouver-based organizations serving women.
Everyone involved in the project would be female, “from design professionals, including planning, architects, engineers to construction workers suppliers and operators,” Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said.
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The facility is targeting a desperate need for women in the city, he added.
“We know we have an unmet need for affordable housing with supportive services geared toward women and families and particularly Indigenous women in Vancouver,” Stewart said.
A parking lot at 2502 Franklin Street, which is valued at over $17 million, has been offered up by the city for the project.
The federal government, by way of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is giving $150,000 in “seed money.”
The funding was announced by Canada’s Minister of Digital Government and Vancouver-Quadra MP Joyce Murray at an event in Vancouver Friday.
While she welcomes the idea, Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson says she’d like to see Ottawa give much more funding in the end.
“I would like them to pay for the project to build the project, but of course it has to be designed and run by Indigenous and other women,” Swanson said.
Battered Women Support Services executive director Angela Marie MacDougall says at this stage, there are still more questions than answers, adding it’s still unclear exactly what the $150,000 would be used for and which organizations will be participating in the project.
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“It would be my hope that women’s organizations would be at it from the beginning all the way to the end and that we would be leading it,” MacDougall said.
“At this point, it looks like the government in terms of the city and the federal government are leading it. I don’t know when they’re gonna come back and involve any of us.”
The East Village Business Improvement Association, the group representing businesses bordering the lot, says it supports the need for affordable housing but are concerned there wasn’t adequate consultation to even get to this stage of proposal.
In an email, a spokesperson told Global News the association will be “seeking an independent legal opinion on the standing of the property and business owners in the 2400, 2500 and 2600 blocks of East Hastings Street as they paid for the purchase of the lot, the construction of the parking lot, improvements to the lot and have been paying a special levy on their property taxes as well for many decades.”