A group of residents armed with placards and posters took to the streets of Vancouver’s Marpole neighbourhood Monday morning to protest the construction of a temporary modular housing project for the homeless.
The City of Vancouver is slated to build 600 temporary modular housing units on various underused or vacant sites. The province has committed $66 million for the project.
The modular housing units are pre-fabricated in a factory and then assembled on site.
One of the vacant sites the city intends to use for the project is at 650 West 57th Ave. in Marpole, but some residents say it’s too close to a number of schools, namely Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Elementary School.
Long Tran, who has lived about three blocks from the site for the past 14 years, is worried about children interacting with the people who will be living at the proposed project site.
“There is no question about [accepting the project in the Marpole area], but not across the street from a school with 2,500 students,” Tran said.
“If we put it next to the children, I don’t think the children can manage them.”
The City of Vancouver says the proposed site — made up of two three-storey buildings — will be managed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by Community Builders, which has previous experience with supportive and low-income housing.
Mayor Gregor Robertson has previously said the temporary modular housing project would fill an important gap in the city.
“These 78 temporary modular homes at Pearson-Dogwood will help get our most vulnerable residents off the streets and into safe housing as quickly as possible,” he said in a release in October.
But resident Mike Burdick said the city hasn’t done enough to consult with Marpole residents before announcing the projects.
“There is so much lacking in information,” he said. “When you lack knowledge, you go to assumptions and we’re assuming the worst.”
Residents will have an opportunity to remedy that over the next few days. The city and B.C. Housing are hosting three community information sessions about the project on Nov. 6, 7, and 8.