photos: Herb Neufeld/flickr

MEGA-NEWS: After a long wait, the Kingsway Continental opens

Former residents of the Old Continental residence, pictured above and situated at the north end of Vancouver's Granville Bridge, moved into a new, city-owned non-market housing complex called the Kingsway Continental in Renfrew-Collingwood this month. The Old Continental is set for demolition and subsidized housing will be developed in its place over the next 10 years.

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It was almost a year behind schedule when it opened this month due to a mould problem, but the Kingsway Continental welcomed its first residents this month. The new city-owned, non-market housing development in a former Ramada Inn hotel on Kingsway near Joyce is a replacement for the Old Continental, a city-owned Single Room Occupancy Hotel that closed in Downtown South earlier this spring— the building was old, and maintenance costs had become too high. 

In a press release, the city tied the 123-unit Kingsway Continental to its efforts to end homelessness by adding 5,000 units of affordable housing by 2021. However, the pending demolition of the Old Continental marks the loss of 109 housing units. Seventy-one former Old Continental tenants are now living at the new Kingsway site.

The remaining Kingsway units house tenants identified by Collingwood Neighbourhood House and Senior Services Society as homeless or at risk of homelessness. Unlike the Old Continental, the Kingsway units have bathrooms, which Jennifer Standeven, assistant director of business operations with the city, says was a selling point for tenants, particularly women.

“We had 92 per cent men at the Old Continental,” she says, adding she suspects the shared washrooms kept women out. “We’ll see when we finish counting the [tenants] if we have more women. We certainly seem to, just looking around the building.”

Rents range from the shelter allowance rate of $375 to $700 for seniors, who pay just $450 thanks to a provincial subsidy.

While tenants can stay at the Kingsway indefinitely, they are encouraged to apply for subsidized housing planned for the Old Continental site. That project is scheduled to finish in 10 years.

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