One day after the City of Vancouver approved a contentious temporary modular housing development on the city's south side, a handful of protesters blocked driveway entrances to the property, forcing the delay of planned site preparations.
The 78-unit development in the Marpole neighbourhood has been billed as a quick and affordable way to house some of the city's most vulnerable people. But some residents of the area say they were blindsided by the speed at which the project moved and argued that a public hearing should have been held.
(A recent bylaw change removed the requirement for temporary modular housing to go before a public hearing as long as the land does not require rezoning.)
On Tuesday, a handful of people held signs with slogans such as "Return my public hearing right" and "We want a say."
Ann Mukai was among those at the proposed site, currently an empty lot owned by the development company Onni. It is located in a quiet residential area across from an elementary school and a small secondary school.
Ms. Mukai, whose three young children attend the elementary school, said her concern is that there is a requirement for a percentage of the tenants to fall into what is known as "service level 3," a category that includes people with extensive criminal histories and are at high-risk to reoffend, and people who "can create security problems through aggressive and intimidating behaviour," according to a city document.
The Sept. 25 document notes that "the housing provider will be expected to house a minimum of 20 per cent of the most vulnerable homeless individuals who will fit into the service level 3 category."
"If people are homeless, if they've hit a rough patch, I get it. I have an aunt who's almost there," Ms. Mukai said. "But if you're going to put service-level-3 people there across from elementary school kids … it's not cool. Incidents that happen will be critical to little kids."
Gil Kelley, the city's general manager of planning, urban design and sustainability, on Tuesday said he granted temporary approval to the five-year development with residents' specific concerns about tenanting and community engagement in mind.
Conditions newly added to the development permit include a community advisory committee composed of community and parent advisory council members and a condition that the building operator consider best practices and local factors when tenanting, Mr. Kelley said.
He declined to comment further on a specific tenant mix.
"I want to leave that up to the process to determine how that will work," Mr. Kelley said.
"People certainly have a right to housing. This program is broad; it includes a number of sites throughout the city.
"What we've asked is, in that work, that the operator take care in terms of making a good fit with this neighbourhood and taking into account the local considerations."
Also at the site on Tuesday was Alex Morrison, a nearby resident who walks past the site daily on his way to and from school at Langara. He held a sign in support of the project.
"I always see these signs, and the protesters out here," Mr. Morrison said.
"I never saw anybody saying 'We support it,' so I just thought I'd take half an hour, come out here and show anybody who does care that there are people who support this."
Mr. Morrison said he trusts the vetting process and is troubled by his neighbours' attempts to keep certain people out.
"Diversity is ideal," he said. "We should have anybody who wants to live there, who needs a place, to live there. We should have more [developments] like that, frankly."
The Marpole development is part of a $66-million commitment from the B.C. government toward building a total of 600 temporary modular housing units in Vancouver.
Metro Vancouver's latest homeless count, released late September, found that 3,605 people in the region do not have homes, up from 2,777 during the last count three years ago. Of those, 2,138 were in the City of Vancouver.