Renfrew-Collingwood’s former Ramada Inn at 3484 Kingsway near Joyce Street, which the City of Vancouver is turning into non-market housing, won’t open as the Kingsway Continental until November or December due to delays in renovation work.
The project was supposed to have been completed by the end of summer.
“The renovations have taken longer than we’d expected, so we’ve been postponed a bit but the good news is that they are well underway and the building is being renovated to the level we want it to be,” explained Jennifer Standeven, the city’s assistant director of business operations. “When we get into renovations of older buildings, you always encounter some issues, whether it’s home renovations or commercial renovations. In this one we discovered some mould, so of course we had to get rid of it and then we do the work afterwards.”
The city bought the Ramada in 2012 for $15.5 million. The city did not provide details about renovation costs by the Courier’s deadline.
Tenants from the 109-unit Old Continental residence at 1390 Granville St. at the north end of Granville Street Bridge, have been given priority placement in the 123-unit Kingsway Continental. The Old Continental will be demolished.
Standeven said about 50 of its roughly 80 residents, who are primarily on welfare or receiving a pension, have accepted the offer. “Some of them have actually lived in the [Renfrew-Collingwood] neighbourhood and we’ve taken people on tours of the neighbourhood, so they’re quite excited and understandingly disappointed that it was delayed,” Standeven said.
B.C. Housing has also requested some of the units in the Kingsway Continental because it’s renovating SROs in the Downtown Eastside.
“They need some space for people on a 12-to-18 month basis,” Standeven added. “So we’re holding some of the units for them. We’re just working out the scheduling with them.”
The city is also working with the Renfrew-Collingwood Homelessness Committee to fill up any rooms that remain. Last year, city staff indicated Kingsway Continental rent will range between $375 a month up to about $750, depending on the size of the unit and the tenant’s financial means.
Michael McLenaghen, Collingwood Neighbourhood House’s community services director, said he’s been told to expect a gradual opening of the Kingsway Continental. The organization is collecting supplies and non-perishable food for gift bags to offer to new tenants.
“We’re making a really big effort to encourage a welcoming feeling for everybody,” he said.
St. Mary’s School and members of CNH youth programs have also created cards to welcome tenants.
“I would say there are not a lot of homeless people in Collingwood-Renfrew — there are some, but there are a fairly large number that are at risk, right on the edge of being homeless. That’s where our outreach workers focus,” McLenaghen said. “So some people from Collingwood-Renfrew who are looking for accommodations and are at-risk, they’ll be moving into the Continental as well.”
At a city open house about the Kingsway Continental last year, some neighbours were concerned about who would lease the space that used to house Jaguars Pub & Restaurant on the property.
They objected to the possibility of another pub moving in. Several said they preferred if it was turned into a cooking school or something to do with the food security institute, which is run out of CNH.
A decision hasn’t been made about the lease, but ultimately it will be a decision for council if an agreement is advanced, according to the city.