The downtown neighbourhood where a tourist hotel is about to be transformed into housing for the homeless shouldn't be so fearful, says a resident from another part of Vancouver where the same thing happened.
That's because the city has chosen an excellent non-profit manager who "really has the best interests of the residents and the local community at heart," Lara Davis says.
Her neighbourhood, just east of the Pacific National Exhibition, was up in arms last year when the city bought the Ramada Inn on East Hastings and transformed it into interim housing.
The city recently announced it has leased the 157-room Quality Inn on Howe Street near the Granville Bridge for two years to be used as interim housing, prompting some vocal opposition from nearby condo residents.
A group has formed to express concerns and lobby the city about it, saying members fear it will become a slum and source of crime as they claim has happened with other projects for the homeless.
The Quality Inn, according to a city letter being sent to residents this week, will be managed by the Community Builders Foundation. That group is also managing the East Hastings hotel.
Ms. Davis said the residents around the Quality Inn are "lucky" to be getting Community Builders as the managers.
"I was really opposed to it in the beginning," said Ms. Davis, a realtor who works, lives and volunteers at her child's school, in the area. "I was nervous for my community."
But Community Builders and its director, Gordon Wiebe, worked hard with the neighbourhood, she said. Mr. Wiebe even moved into the hotel himself for four months to make sure it was running well, she said.
"They did what they said they were going to do. They said they were going to screen people and decided on a case-by-case basis how things were going."
There was one case of dial-a-dope deliveries being made to the building and that was dealt with instantly, said Ms. Davis, who sits on a neighbourhood committee that meets monthly with the operators.
She said people who have moved into the hotel participated in a community day in mid-September that brought them together with other residents in the neighbourhood.
A spokesperson for Community Builders, which is an international organization, said Mr. Wiebe is out of the country and couldn't provide information about exactly how the Quality Inn will be managed.
City Manager Penny Ballem said the group will also be getting support from mental-health specialists, including well-known psychiatrist Bill MacEwan, who has worked with people from the Downtown Eastside for years.
A letter is going out to 2,800 property owners within four blocks of the hotel and of a nearby winter shelter, as well as to 1,000 rental and business addresses to let them know about a community meeting on Oct. 29, according to the city.
The city, Vancouver Coastal Health, the police and Community Builders will be there to talk to residents and business owners.
Ms. Ballem said that, although a few residents have been vocal in their opposition to the shelter and hotel, they are among only a handful of complaints the city has received about the two operations.
"There's certainly not a neighbourhood uproar here. There are a lot who are supportive in the community."
She and the mayor both said the Quality Inn, which the city is planning to open as interim housing in November, was rushed because a developer approached the city only recently with an offer to lease it for two years.
"This came up very quickly and we grabbed it," she said.