Three and a half years after the Little Mountain social housing units were torn down, the developer still hasn’t rezoned the land or secured a building permit in what housing advocates are calling a “stalemate” between the developer and the City of Vancouver.
“My understanding is the developer bought the property without getting a building permit and therefore had no idea what density he would be allowed to cre- ate, and therefore no guarantee whether or not he’d be able to make money,” says Barry Growe, a member of Community Advocates for Little Mountain (C.A.L.M.), adding he hasn’t heard this officially, but the absence of any word from either parties makes him suspicious. “There’s a stalemate. The city’s not happy with the developer’s plans.”
As part of the deal to redevelop the property, the developer, Holborn Group, must include at least 234 units of social housing, with first priority go- ing to the former residents.
According to Holborn Group, how- ever, there is no stalemate with the city and, despite a rocky start thanks to the 2008 recession and issues with the original Little Mountain development team, the project is back on schedule with hopes to have rezoning and a building permit by September.
“I hope that if all goes well by September (the city) could vote on the policy framework so we could continue on the next stage,” says Joo Kim Tiah, president of Holborn Group, adding the municipal elections in November may delay the process.
“We understand how this project is very important to a lot of people, especially the former residents, and also I think the city wants to have a good story.”
If timelines are met, Tiah predicts shovels could be in the ground by the end of 2012, with the first 100 units of social housing built by 2015.
Photo by Chris Bevacqua.