Vancouver’s latest tool for housing the homeless getting rough reception

Some residents feel blindsided by the temporary modular housing projects

Construction has hardly begun at the first of Vancouver’s temporary modular housing projects and already pushback is mounting against the city’s latest strategy to house its homeless.

Vancouver was granted an injunction earlier this week from the Supreme Court of British Columbia to dislodge protesters who were preventing work crews from accessing a construction site in the tony neighbourhood of Marpole.

Some residents feel blindsided by the move and are critical of a decision they feel puts children in danger. Three schools are close to the project, including an elementary school located directly across the street.

The Marpole site will host two buildings with a total of 78 units, each of which would measure about 23 square metres and contain a kitchen and washroom. The project is part of a $66-million investment from the provincial government to build 600 units across Vancouver. Another 2,000 modular living quarters are planned across B.C. over the next two years.

Derek Palaschuk, a spokesman for the Caring Citizens of Vancouver Society, said the community fully supports the construction of modular housing and solving homelessness in Vancouver.

“It’s the right idea but wrong location,” he said on Thursday.

“You should not put our children at risk by having this modular housing … 25 steps from an elementary school.”

Palaschuk cited city documents that reserve at least 20 per cent of the units for tenants who may have an extensive criminal past and a high risk to reoffend, a history of property damage, aggressive and intimidating behaviour, and poor housekeeping and hygiene.

Ethel Whitty, Vancouver’s director of homelessness services, said it is typical for residents to protest this kind of project before embracing it, which has been the experience with the 13 permanent supportive housing initiatives located across the city.

“People forget they’re even there,” Whitty said. “That’s the thing. In some cases there will be resistance right in the very beginning. The community advisory committees will be set up and people will come once a month and then quarterly and then interest kind of drops off because, in fact, the housing just becomes integrated into the community.”Other groups have expressed support for the project, including an organization made up mostly of students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, a block from the Marpole project.

Holly Morrison, 17, a spokeswoman for Marpole Students For Modular Housing, said the idea for the group came after she and other students saw adults calling themselves Marpole Students Against Modular Housing protesting outside the school.

“We kind of felt like we had maybe our voices stolen from us,” Morrison said. Homelessness is not the fault of the individual but of society as a whole, she added.

“These aren’t inherently bad people. These are people who have just been dealt a bad hand of cards.”

The group plans to push for better transit and a cheaper grocery store in the neighbourhood, Morrison said.

Several other sites around the city have been earmarked for modular units, though another proposed site in the centre of the city’s Downtown Eastside that would replace a tent city has prompted a backlash. Residents issued a statement saying the B.C. government of shirking on the need for more permanent social housing.

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Your Columbia River Revelstoke candidates; Nicole Cherlet (NDP); Samson Boyer (Green) and Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal). The polls are closed and ballots being counted. (File photo)
BC VOTES: Clovechok preliminary winner with 52 per cent of the vote

35 of 77 polls have reported and The Canadian Press is calling Clovechok winner

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

(Google Maps)
Collision closes Highway 97A in North Okanagan

The highway has been closed since early this morning

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read