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Vancouver Mayor Will Turn Downtown Tent City into Social Housing

In a largely symbolic move, Gregor Robertson vowed to begin the process of turning the tent city site into housing for some of the city's poorest residents.

by Ebony-Renee Baker
Aug 4 2016, 4:08pm


Photo via Facebook

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced yesterday he'll be making steps to improve the city's housing crisis by building "100 percent social housing" over tent city, the lot currently occupied by unaffordable housing protesters.

Over 100 homeless people and protesters have been camping on this West Hastings Street lot in downtown Vancouver for nearly a month, calling for the city's government to take action.

The announcement came after Robertson met with affordable housing advocates from the Our Homes Can't Wait campaign on Tuesday to discuss housing and poverty in the city.

"We've come to an agreement to make sure that the 58 West Hastings site is 100 per cent social housing," Robertson said after the meeting. "Part of this is making sure this building is available to people who are on welfare, who are on pensions."

READ MORE: Inside the BC Tent City That Beat the Government in Court

This social housing site could provide 300 housing units, but it could take years to build. Robertson and the other meeting members signed a mock contract agreeing to apply for rezoning by June next year.

Officials haven't yet said what will happen to tent city and its occupants from now until then.

A new social housing development was the main goal of tent city protesters. Earlier this year, protesters demonstrated their hopes for the lot and for improvement of Vancouver's housing crisis at a public paint-in.

The group said they wanted the site to be 100 percent social housing, allocating a third for Chinese seniors, a third for Indigenous people, and the other third for those who are homeless or living in single-room occupancy hotels.

"We're going to keep focused, working with the community, to make sure this site and many others around the city are focused for the most vulnerable people, who can only afford welfare rates, and that's going to be a big piece of our work in the weeks ahead," Robertson said.

Last month, one of Canada's longest-running homeless camp protests held in Victoria was closed down after the BC Supreme Court promised to build homes for them, including over 100 units at a former senior home.

The mayor's efforts come after last week's Financial Post report, which revealed the disheartening fact that unaffordable housing, the bane of our existence, might be the only thing keeping Canada's economy afloat.

Seeing as Vancouver is one of Canada's most expensive cities, this is just one miniscule move towards providing slightly more affordable life for it's citizens.

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