Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Advocates say promises broken in Vancouver affordable housing redevelopment

The fate of an affordable housing complex some have described as Vancouver's next "Little Mountain" is still unclear.

In 2007, the B.C. government began pushing residents of Little Mountain out of their social housing community. In 2009, they demolished it and sold the public land to a private developer.

Now, housing advocates fear Heather Place, located near Vancouver General Hospital, is headed in the same direction. But while Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC) has no plans to sell the complex, advocates say a coming redevelopment will result in a loss of affordable housing units.

An application to rezone Heather Place was discussed at city council last night, and though no decisions were made, it will be revisited on April 29.

According to MVHC, which filed the rezoning application, the redevelopment will provide much-needed rental accommodation. But not everyone agrees it's a positive move.

"In the best case scenario, this [decision] means we are losing 34 affordable units," said Nathan Crompton. A member of the advocacy group Save Heather Place, Crompton said all 86 units at Heather Place are currently affordable, meaning they are below "pure market rent."

MVHC had initially promised that new development would replace Heather Place's affordable housing units on a one-for-one basis, Crompton said. But according to a policy report released last month, that promise will be broken. After first, only 52 units out of the 230 planned units will be subsidized.

With the redevelopment, 26 units will definitely continue to receive subsidies. The other 26 will become significantly more expensive, with prices potentially increasing by over 60 per cent, depending on whether the tenants occupying the units qualify for rent supplements.

"Subsidies will be calculated based on gross income and will be subject to availability," said Crompton. "Expenses will not be taken into account."

For Karen Gilchrist, a Heather Place tenant, this is a problem. As a single mother, the increase in rent coupled with the possible lack of subsidies might force her to leave.

"Currently, my student loans and childcare expenses exceed $1,000 dollars [a month]," said Gilchrist. "But they are considered luxury items. They are not factored in calculations of gross income."

If redevelopments like this continue to be approved, she said, Vancouver will become a place where average families can't make a home. "Our community is our family. This decision is detrimental to me and to my daughter."

Emi Sasagawa is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus