It’s been a long wait, but Vancouver City Council has approved rezoning of the Little Mountain development to bring back the social housing that was demolished in 2009.
The property located near Queen Elizabeth Park was once home to over 600 residents who were displaced with the promise of new units coming soon.
Officials admit the project should have been completed already
Mayor Gregor Robertson recognizes that the process took far too long.
“And that has made it a great challenge for the community to endure. And it’s meant a wasted opportunity. Time that people could’ve been living in good social housing in particular.”
Councillor Melissa De Genova also says she’s curious how council took so long to pass this.
“I find it ironic that this council made a priority of moving forward 1161 Georgia and luxury condominiums before social housing.”
Little Mountain history: a nine-year battle
2007: The City of Vancouver and BC Housing signs a memorandum for sale and redevelopment of Little Mountain. Existing residents are asked to vacate their homes in preparation.
Ingrid Steenhuisen is one resident who refused to leave her home in Little Mountain, where she had been living since 1957. She says the decision to remove people so early was an appalling one.
“There was no need for things to be done the way it was done. Forcing people out so early. A lot of people in 2007 being told that they would be able to move back by the summer of 2010.”
2008: The Holborn Group is selected as the developer for Little Mountain’s new social housing development.
2009: The consultation process begins and the majority of Little Mountain’s social housing is demolished to make room for new proposed development.
2010: By this time, residents should have been moving back into their homes at Little Mountain according to promises made by the developer and local government.
In a 2015 interview with CKNW, New Democrat MLA George Heyman, stressed the point that government had promised 234 units to be built by 2010.
“Only that side of the house could be five years late, deliver just 20 per-cent of their promise, and then brag about it.”
2015: New building with 53 social housing units opens in Little Mountain, marking the only development since 2009’s demolition.
At the time, Mayor Gregor Robertson praised the progress of the 53 new units in a BC Housing release.
“Today’s opening of 53 affordable apartments for seniors is an important milestone in our work together to build an inclusive and vibrant new community at Little Mountain.”
What’s coming next for Little Mountain?
The approved rezoning proposal details 234 units of replacement social housing, including about 1,400 condo units, along with a 69-space child care facility, over 32,000 square ft. of commercial space, and a public plaza with accompanying park.
For long-time resident Steenhuisen, the development won’t make up for the community she lost.
“It was like one large extended family. I mean, everybody knew everybody. You might not have liked everybody, but at least you knew them.”
The province says the $300 million from the land sale has since created more than 2,000 new housing units across B.C.