City approves 52-unit modular housing complex on Kaslo Street

Vancouver Courier Staff

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Architectural rendering of temporary modular housing for 4480 Kaslo St. Rendering courtesy City of Vancouver

The City of Vancouver has approved a development permit for another temporary modular housing complex, this time on Kaslo Street. It will house 52 units.

The site at 4480 Kaslo St. (formerly 4410) is across from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station.

The province is providing $66 million to fund 600 units of modular housing in Vancouver. Five sites have already been identified for complexes that will be home to 260 of the 600 units.

The Kaslo project is the fourth of the five to be approved. One in Marpole is already open, two are under construction — a 39-unit complex at 501 Powell St. and a 39-unit one at 1115, 1131 and 1141 Franklin St.

The fifth, 52-unit project proposed for 595 and 599 West Second Avenue is under review through the development permit process.

The city expects to identify more sites for modular housing in coming months to meet the 600-unit goal.

Meanwhile, each unit in the Kaslo Street complex will be 320 square feet and include a bathroom and kitchen.

Six units will be wheelchair accessible. The building will also feature a large amenity space with a commercial kitchen to encourage social interaction and provide a communal space for the residents to gather, according to a March 13 city press release. There will also be laundry facilities, a staff room, an office, and meeting rooms for the staff and residents to use. Construction is expected to start in late March and the building will open in early July.

B.C. Housing selected Atira as the non-profit housing operator to oversee tenanting and management of the building and to provide support services to the tenants 24/7, including life skills training, volunteer work, employment preparation and connections to community-based programs.

Prior to approval, three community information sessions about the plans were organized, which attracted 400 people.

Community organizations such as Still Creek Community Garden, the Collingwood Neighborhood House, Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, the Renfrew-Collingwood Seniors Society, Grenfell Elementary School and Vancouver School Board representatives were also contacted.

Open house invitations also went to local schools and Parent Advisory Committees, daycares and preschools and local businesses. Mayor Gregor Robertson went on a neighbourhood walkabout, according to the city, and met with representatives from the Victoria Drive Business Improvement Association and the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

The city received 200 comment cards and 80 emails through the process, both in support and in opposition.

Concerns about the scale of the building, the need to relocate and replace the existing community garden, proximity to nearby schools and playgrounds, and the tenanting process were raised, while supporters approved of the city delivering this type of housing to help the homelessness.

The city’s director of planning included conditions of approval to address concerns, which are focused on how the new building will successfully function within the community.

One of those conditions involves setting up a Community Advisory Committee to provide a way for information to be shared and discussions to take place between the community and the program partners.

Members of the committee will include the housing operator and community members, as well as representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, Vancouver Police Department and the City of Vancouver.

People who are unsheltered or living in a shelter, and homeless people living in the local neighbourhood, will be given priority for units in the Kaslo complex.

A community garden on the site will be relocated. The park board and the city worked with gardeners to find a suitable location at Slocan Park.

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