It didn’t turn into the “Downtown Eastside” and crime didn’t run riot.
Despite the fears of a large group of Richmond residents – three years ago this week – the temporary modular housing (TMH) project at 7300 Elmbridge Way in the city centre didn’t turn into a cesspool of robberies and assaults.
It was in the second week of March in 2018 that residents of the area rallied together to bombard city hall with a petition which vehemently protested against BC Housing’s TMH for people who are homeless.
The $5.9 million project provided 40 units and support to homeless people in Richmond, but more than 600 people showed up at an open house at city hall, the vast majority of whom appeared to be dead set against the proposal.
The petition against the project, organized via two WeChat groups – A Chinese-language social media platform - gathered 1,000-plus signatures.
“As residents living here, we should have the right to decide on the project, as it is going to affect our lives and community safety. The government shall not abuse its power,” said one resident at the time, who refused to give his name.
“Within five to ten minutes walking distance of this large community, there are six preschools/day care centres, one elementary school, one seniors home, and Richmond’s speed skating rink,” the letter said.
“Homeless population(s) suffer health problems such as addiction, disease, and mental or physical disability… refusing to carry out a proper background check is undemocratic.”
Residents were also upset that the house will be built on the location which is currently being used as a dog park.
“(We) believe the initiative is a worthy cause… however, no one wants this type of housing or the proposed residents as our neighbours or in our neighbourhood,” wrote Clifton Jang, strata president of Lotus Condo, at the time.
Apart from safety concerns, Jang also expressed residents’ anxiety that their property value will decrease.
“If an owner can objectively prove they have lost money, specifically due to the proposal being nearby, how does Richmond propose to deal with this, or does Richmond merely expect owners to eat a loss?” asked Jang.
“(And) Richmond is filled with luxury cars. Our strata is no different...our members certainly do not feel safe with their vehicles overnight should this housing go forward.”
According to the RCMP last year, there was no significant uptick in crime in the area since the TMH was erected.