A building with 135 units of affordable housing — more than half of which are for families — is one step closer to reality after the City of Vancouver broke ground on the project this week.

The 15-storey building, located at the northwest corner of Quebec Street and 1st Avenue in the False Creek neighbourhood, will have 44 two-bedroom and 29 three-bedroom suites, as well as two in-home daycare units.

"I don't claim this is a panacea, but I do think it's a big step forward," Vision city councillor Geoff Meggs told On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.

The building, which will be operated by a nonprofit, is part of a larger community being developed by Concert Properties which will include four market-housing buildings and a 2.7-acre waterfront park.


The building will be one of five erected at a 6.4-acres site on the northwest corner of Quebec Street and 1st Avenue. (City of Vancouver/Concert Properties)

Forty per cent of the 135 units in the affordable housing building will be below the "housing income limits," to ensure that these homes are targeted to people with an annual income ranging from $36,500 to $56,000.

"That basically provides for lower-middle income families to pay about 30 per cent of their income in rent," Meggs said.

"Because the site will be owned by the city, as mortgages and financing are paid off we'll be able to deepen the affordability — especially though if we got more help from senior levels of government."

The remaining 60 per cent of the units will be at rented out at "similar rents or lower than what you would get in the area," Meggs said.

When asked if market housing is just market housing, and the rent of these units would be whatever one was willing to pay for them, Meggs responded:

"We're going to try and keep the rents lower, and that's done by the deal with the nonprofit operator, and because our costs going in are different — we have the land and we have the contribution community amenity charges — we can reduce the costs."

The total development costs for the building are $38.75 million. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2018.

With files from CBC's On the Coast

To hear the full story listen to the audio labelled: City of Vancouver breaks ground on affordable housing project in False Creek