Temporary modular housing approved for Marpole

Development Permit approved for 78 new homes for Vancouver'smost vulnerable residents

"Temporary modular housing provides safe and secure homes for our residents who have the greatest need. No person should be sleeping on the streets - or dying as a result"

Modular housing
Photograph by Olympic Legacy Affordable Housing, Surrey – built by Britco
November 27 2017 –

The Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver, Gil Kelley, announced today the conditional approval of a development permit to build 78 new temporary modular homes at the Pearson-Dogwood site in Marpole at 7430 and 7460 Heather Street (650 West 57th Avenue). The homes are part of a $66 million commitment from the Government of British Columbia towards building 600 units of temporary modular housing in Vancouver for the City's homeless residents.

As part of the development permit process the City hosted four community information sessions in the Marpole neighbourhood with 650 people attending. Meetings with community groups, including Marpole BIA, Marpole Community Association and Parent Advisory Committees from the schools in the neighbourhood were also held. Feedback was gathered online and in person with approximately 300 comment cards and 400 emails received.

The City understands the residents of the Marpole neighbourhood have concerns about the operation of the temporary modular housing and is committed to working with the community towards good stewardship of this site and the community in general.

"Temporary modular housing provides safe and secure homes for our residents who have the greatest need. No person should be sleeping on the streets - or dying as a result," says Mayor Gregor Robertson.  "The approval of this project is one way the City can quickly and effectively provide quality homes for our most vulnerable residents, especially as we enter the cold winter season."

Robertson added that the City has been listening closely to feedback from the community and key stakeholders as it prepares to roll out this temporary modular housing project in the Marpole neighbourhood.

"We've seen many members of the community come forward, some with concerns about this project and others - including Marpole students, parents, business and faith leaders - who are strongly in support of the action we're taking to address homelessness. By working closely and collaboratively with our partners - BC Housing, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department, the housing operator and the Vancouver School Board - and the local community, we will make this project a success. We've done it before throughout the city," says Robertson.

Conditions to the development permit

Based on feedback from the community the City has added conditions to the development permit to ensure on ongoing dialogue for successful integration of the temporary modular housing into the community.

The following conditions have been added to the development permit:

  • BC Housing will amend the Operations Management Plan (OMP), as needed, to reflect periodic reports out from BC Housing to the City of Vancouver
  • The project shall have a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that includes both community members and Parent Advisory Council members, as well as others representing community interest. The CAC shall be established and convene a first meeting prior to the occupancy permit issuance in order for BC Housing, Community Builders (as the operator) and the City of Vancouver to update CAC members on project progress and implementation of the Operations Management Plan (OMP)
  • This site will be tenanted in accordance with affordable/supportive housing tenanting best practices, taking into consideration the surrounding neighbourhood including the adjacent schools and other uses
  • The City of Vancouver will work with the Vancouver School Board, BC Housing and Community Builders to convene a community conversation prior to the occupancy permit in order update the community on the progress of the project, enable strong lines of communication, hear any continuing concerns and suggestions, and foster a positive reception for new residents

"After hearing directly from concerned citizens we're taking all the necessary steps to ensure temporary modular housing will fit into the neighbourhood. The conditions placed on this approval are specifically designed to address and alleviate concerns we've heard from the local residents, and as part of the permit requirements we will continue an open dialogue with the community through the Community Advisory Committee, " says Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability. "The City of Vancouver has a longstanding history of successfully integrating housing for vulnerable residents into neighbourhoods across our city; I'm confident this project will be no exception."

The temporary housing at 7430 and 7460 Heather Street will be prioritized for people who are unsheltered or living in shelters, people who are 45 years and older, persons with disabilities and homeless people living in the local neighbourhood.

The two temporary modular housing buildings, which will contain 39 units each, will be constructed by Horizon North at West 59th Avenue and Heather Street. Each new home will be approximately 250 square feet and contain a bathroom and kitchen. A total of 17 per cent (14 units) will be fully accessible. The buildings will also include amenity space and laundry facilities for all tenants to use. It is anticipated that the first building will open in early February 2018.

Temporary modular housing is compatible with the phased development plans for the Pearson-Dogwood site. A rezoning was approved by Council for the site in June 2017 to build a mixed-used community with approximately 2,700 residential units (including 540 social housing  and 114 supportive units), as well as a community health centre and complex residential care facility with childcare, a new adult day centre, a 2.5-acre public park, and a 1.0-acre urban farm. Temporary modular housing is located on portion of the site that is scheduled for a later phase of the development. Permanent social housing will be constructed earlier throughout the site.

BC Housing has selected Community Builders as the non-profit operator for both buildings and will oversee tenanting and management of the building, and provide support services to the tenants 24/7, including life skills training, volunteer work, employment preparation and connections to community-based programs. Community Builders is an experienced supportive and low-income housing provider with 15 years of experience in Vancouver's urban core.

In September, Council approved amendments to the City's Zoning and Development By-Law to streamline the process for proposed affordable housing developments where a minimum of 70 per cent of all units in the building are for people receiving Income Assistance, such as temporary modular housing.

About temporary modular housing

Temporary modular housing is a quick and effective way to address the urgent needs of the City's most vulnerable residents while more permanent housing is being built.

From this fall until the end of next year, 1,000 new social and supportive housing units will open across Vancouver.  All of the developments will be managed safely and responsibly by experienced non-profit housing operators.

As part of the City's Housing Vancouver strategy that will be finalized at Council this week, staff proposed a target of 12,000 new units of permanent social and supportive housing over the next 10 years.

The City is also working together with BC Housing to open 300 temporary shelter spaces this winter as a way for those living on the street to get out of the cold.

Learn more about temporary modular housing