Brightside Community Homes Foundation has submitted a rezoning application which, if approved, would see two of its buildings on East 12th Avenue — Loyal Orange Manor and Edward Byers House — redeveloped into a two-building complex with 100 more seniors social housing rental units than currently exist on the site.
Brightside Community Homes Foundation is a non-profit affordable housing society that owns and operates 26 buildings.
The neighbouring buildings involved in this project are two-storeys and located at 1425 and 1451 East 12th Ave. between Clark and Woodland drives. They now feature a total of 57 social housing units, while the proposed six-storey replacement buildings would produce 157.
Loyal Orange Manor and Edward Byers House cater to people over 55 years of age. Rents are geared to income. The buildings, which were built in 1962 and 1971, are showing their age and don’t have accessibility features such as elevators, according to Brightside CEO William Azaroff.
He said features such as elevators are critical for buildings where people want to age in place.
“Anything added to code over the last 40 years [like a sprinkler system] will be in the [redevelopment],” he added. “So there will be a lot of modern amenities but also universal design standards for accessibility.”
Brightside is considering Passive House standards for environmental performance.
“The other thing is, because we want to build community in our buildings, [we’re thinking about] things like an amenity room with a really good kitchen so people can make meals together and eat together,” Azaroff said.
The application is being dealt with under the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.
Azaroff said Brightside is exceeding the City of Vancouver’s tenant relocation requirements. Staff are meeting with current tenants individually to assess their needs and determine where they can be relocated in Brightside’s portfolio of buildings based on considerations such as location and size of unit.
“We'll pay their costs and an honorarium for them to move. Their rent stays the same in the sense that it's geared to income,” he said.
“As long as their income stays the same, the rent stays the same. When the project is done, they will have the option to move back into that building or they can stay put if they like the unit they relocated to. We want to give them maximum options. Nobody likes to move but I think residents understand that these buildings are old, they don't meet the needs of the community anymore, and so they're open to getting out in order to build something new.”
This project is part of Brightside’s overall plan to redevelop five of its properties to more than double the number of units those buildings currently provide — increasing their total unit numbers from 203 to about 480. Aside from Loyal Orange Manor and Edward Byers House, the three other projects in the works involve the foundation’s 64-unit Alice Saunders building at 2924 Venables St., its 46-unit Macleod Manor at 8725 French St. and its 36-unit Mount Pleasant at 325 East Sixth Ave.
News of the redevelopment of one of the sites — the Alice Saunders building on Venables — led some of its residents to protest last summer.
Azaroff said he hasn’t heard negative feedback about the Loyal Orange Manor/Edward Byers House project, and he was pleased with the reaction at the pre-application open house.
“The neighbouring homeowners or residents may be worried about a bigger building but, for the most part, we've received outstanding support on all the engagement we've done on all our projects so far. It's been really heartening.”
He maintains it's important to redevelop the sites.
“As much as we look after our residents today, we've got a waiting list. We know the demand is huge. We all know that the need for affordable housing in the city is enormous so we have the capacity to provide a lot more units to people who are right now being left behind by the market. We're motivated by trying to provide more homes,” he said.
An open house about the East 12 Avenue project runs from 5 to 8 p.m., Feb. 4, at the Lakeview Multicultural United Church. It it’s approved at a public hearing, it’s likely at least a year away before the existing buildings are taken down, while construction will take about 18 months once permits are issued.