British Columbia

Vancouver council wants full disclosure of documents surrounding Little Mountain sale

Vancouver city council has unanimously passed a motion to throw its support behind a community group seeking the public disclosure of documents related to the 2008 sale of the Little Mountain social housing complex. 

Social housing complex was demolished for redevelopment after its 2008 sale but has remained vacant for years

There is not much to see at the Little Mountain social housing site in Vancouver since 224 units of housing were dismantled in 2009. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Vancouver city council has unanimously passed a motion to throw its support behind a community group seeking the public disclosure of documents related to the 2008 sale of the Little Mountain social housing complex. 

The Little Mountain housing project, which has been in a state of suspension for over a decade, has attracted considerable scrutiny at a time where housing affordability has become a hot button issue in the city. 

Completed in 1954, the 224-unit social housing complex was Vancouver's first large-scale modern social housing project. The complex, near East 37th and Main Street, housed a vibrant community.

It was initially managed by the federal government, then passed on to the province and B.C. Housing in 2007. The complex was sold by the provincial government, then led by the B.C. Liberals, to Holborn Holdings Ltd., a private developer in 2008.

The plan for redevelopment included 1,400 market value homes but also 234 social housing units, child care, a new community plaza and public park. The existing residents were asked to relocate but were told they could return after the newer building complex was completed.

The six-hectare Little Mountain site has sat empty since the controversial demolition of the existing buildings in 2009. (Holborn/City of Vancouver)

But while most of the units on the site were demolished by 2009, very little progress was made. Most of the site has remained a vacant lot for the past decade.

"To see it sit empty for so long when so many people in our city need homes, it's upsetting," said Coun. Christine Boyle, who submitted the motion.

Boyle said while the city has limited jurisdiction on what it can do with the land, it can support efforts to bring about accountability and transparency. 

"It's been a lot of effort by the neighbourhood trying over many years to make these documents public," Boyle said. "And it's in the interest of the city to find out what the provisions were in this contract to inform our decisions for the future."

Boyle said a heavily redacted version of the contract of sale was released, but the Riley Park South Cambie Visions Committee, which is seeking the documents, wants a full disclosure.

She said now that the motion has passed, Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a letter in support of the group for full disclosure of the document. 

With files from On The Coast

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