B.C. intervenes to save housing project from lawsuit
With the legislative intervention, construction could begin in early 2024.
- A 129-unit mixed supportive housing and affordable housing development in Vancouver is facing a lawsuit from a community group that opposes it.
- The province has stepped into to make legislative amendments so the rezoning for it can proceed.
- Officials say the project could break ground in 2024.
The Whole Story:
B.C. is introducing legislative amendments to allow rezoning for a housing project that has been tied up with a lawsuit.
The province announced it was making the amendments through the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act.
“We are taking legislative action to avoid further delays for the creation of much-needed homes in this Province,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing. “Too many people are sheltering outside. We know it is not safe and we are helping to create badly needed supportive housing in Vancouver. These amendments, if passed, will ensure the City of Vancouver can approve homes for people without delay.”
In July 2022, Vancouver city council approved, in principle, a rezoning bylaw to allow a 129-unit mixed supportive housing and affordable housing development, known as the Arbutus Project, at 2086 and 2098 W. 7th Ave. and 2091 W. 8th Ave.
The approval followed a public-hearing process that invited local residents and other interested participants to comment on the proposed development. The adoption of the rezoning bylaw has been delayed due to legal action by the Kitsilano Coalition, a neighbourhood advocacy group that opposed the project. Last fall, the Kitsilano Coalition filed a petition in the Supreme Court of British Columbia seeking judicial review of the rezoning. They argued that the city’s process did not ensure transparency, fairness and disclosure of key information.
“A fundamental principle governing the conduct of public hearings is that members of the public are provided with an opportunity to make submissions to Council, and that they are provided with all the information that Council has before when making its decision,” said Karen Finnan, a spokesperson for the group.
The coalition argued that it wanted an “alternative model that would be successful for the residents of the project and the surrounding neighbourhood, which includes an elementary school, daycare centre, toddler playground, and a women’s supportive recovery home in the immediate proximity.”
The province stated it is making the changes to the act as a direct response to a request from the city of Vancouver for legislative intervention to allow the Arbutus Project to move forward as soon as possible. With the legislative intervention, construction could begin in early 2024.
“We are thankful for the ongoing support from senior government partners to expedite the delivery of much-needed affordable housing in the city. This project will deliver 129 studio homes and make a huge difference in the lives of people in the community,” said Ken Sim, mayor of Vancouver. “We look forward to continuing conversations and working with the community via the neighbourhood Community Advisory Committee as the project progresses.”