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Temporary modular housing approved for 610 and 620 Cambie site

August 15 2018 Development permit approved for 98 new homes for Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents

Temporary modular housing unit

Today, the Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver announced the approval of a development permit to build new temporary modular homes at 610 and 620 Cambie Street (formerly 688 Cambie Street).

The two new buildings will provide 98 safe and stable new homes for individuals who are presently homeless, with the priority being homeless people living in the local neighbourhood.

They are part of a $66 million commitment from the Government of British Columbia towards building 600 new homes to address the immediate needs of homeless residents in Vancouver. 

The temporary modular housing buildings will be constructed by Horizon North. Construction will begin next week, and it is expected that the buildings will open this fall.

Building features

Each new suite will be 320 square feet and will contain a kitchenette, bathroom, and living/sleeping area. A total of six homes in each building will be wheelchair accessible. Each has individual heating and cooling, allowing the residents autonomy in their living spaces. 

Shared space

The buildings will also include a large indoor amenity space with a commercial kitchen to encourage social interaction and provide a communal space for the residents to gather.

There will also be common laundry facilities, an administration office, and meeting rooms for the staff and residents to use to provide services for an independent but supported lifestyle.

The front yard of the buildings will have a shared amenity space with tables and gardening planters for the residents to use.

Support services

BC Housing has selected MPA Society as the non-profit housing operator to oversee tenanting and management of the buildings, and provide support services to the tenants 24/7, including life skills training, volunteer work, employment preparation and connections to community-based programs. MPA Society is an experienced non-profit housing provider, providing supportive housing for vulnerable individuals for almost 50 years.  

Public engagement

As part of the development permit process the City hosted community information sessions with approximately 70 people attending over two sessions. 

City staff also connected with many local residents, businesses and key stakeholders  including the Downtown and Crosstown BIAs, representatives from the film, sports and special events industry, the Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver School Board and the Vancouver Art Gallery. 

The City received approximately 30 comment cards at the community information sessions, and received approximately 20 emails both in support and opposition. Of the comments received, those in support acknowledged the need for more supportive housing in Vancouver, agreed with using vacant land to build temporary housing and encouraged the construction of more temporary modular housing.

Of those opposed, there were concerns about safety and drug use, as well as loss of parking spaces. 

Conditions of the development permit

As a condition of approval of the development permit, a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will be established to provide an ongoing forum for information sharing and dialogue between the community and the program partners. It will be comprised of MPA Society, community members, and representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Housing, Vancouver Police Department, and the City of Vancouver. The Community Liaison is available for ongoing community questions during the construction phase until the CAC is convened prior to completion.  

In 2013, Vancouver City Council approved two-thirds of the land at 610 and 620 Cambie Street for a new Vancouver Art Gallery. The proposed temporary modular housing project will not delay or impede the construction of a new Vancouver Art Gallery. The City and its partners acknowledge the importance the new Gallery will play in the community by providing a vibrant creative hub for citizens of Vancouver and beyond to more meaningfully engage with art through exceptional exhibitions, collection and public and education programs.

This site is often used for filming and by special events organizations. The City has worked with stakeholders who use the site to ensure the proposed layout of the temporary modular housing buildings allows these groups to continue to use some of the site.

Temporary modular homes

 The City and the Province have announced approximately 600 temporary modular homes, which are in various stages of the development and approval process. 

Approved temporary modular homes

  • 7430 and 7460 Heather St (78 homes built and tenanted)
  • 1131 Franklin St (39 homes built and tenanted)
  • 525 Powell St (39 homes built and tenanted)
  • 4480 (formerly 4410) Kaslo St (52 homes built and tenanted)
  • 2132 Ash St (formerly 595 and 599 West 2nd Ave) (52 homes under construction)
  • Little Mountain 137 East 37th Ave (46 homes under construction) 
  • 610 and 620 Cambie St (formerly 688 Cambie St) (98 homes approved) 

Total: 404 homes 

Sites at development application stage

  • 4949 Heather St (approximately 100 homes, development permit application has been submitted to the City)
  • 215 West 1st Ave (approximately 50 homes, development permit application has been submitted to the City)
  • Union St and Gore Ave (898 Main St) (approximately 50 homes)

Total: approximately 200 proposed homes