Metro Vancouver residents demand transparency over modular housing tenants they fear could pose a risk

The communities of Marpole and False Creek, two Vancouver neighbourhoods where residents say it’s the wrong place for temporary housing, are resounding with concerns about tenants who residents fear could pose a risk to the communities they’re housed in.

People in False Creek and Marpole want to know more about the vetting process and how tenants are placed

The site of Vancouver's very first modular homes was at 220 Terminal Avenue. The city intends to build 600 units as a response to the growing number of homeless. (City of Vancouver)

Vancouver is moving forward with more modular housing, but while this is one way to house the homeless not everyone wants these homes in their neighbourhoods.

The communities of Marpole and False Creek, two Vancouver neighbourhoods where residents say it's the wrong place for temporary housing, are resounding with concerns about tenants they fear could pose a risk to the communities they're housed in. 

Derek Palaschuk, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Caring Citizens Association in Marpole, said their research shows that each housing project is required to have 20 per cent of tenants classified as higher needs or what B.C. Housing calls Service Level 3.

This is a group that, according to a city document, includes people with traits such as extensive criminal history and high risk to reoffend, aggressive and intimidating behaviour, frequent conflict with others, poor communication skills and history of property damage.

People against proposed modular housing in the Vancouver community of Marpole rally outside city hall on Nov. 10, 2017. (Harold Dupuis/CBC)

"We also understand ... that they're not even allowed to do criminal record searches on tenants," Palaschuk told Early Edition host Stephen Quinn — a fact the city has confirmed.

"We've been told that, of course, there is a risk to society. No one can guarantee that there is not going to be problem … Once the tenants leave the premises, they are unsupervised, and we haven't received communication from the city about how residents should be prepared to deal with this."

Neighbourhood residents want transparency

Palaschuk says he's disappointed with the lack of transparency on the city's website about the mix of tenants that will be living in these units and how neighbourhoods can prepare to address this increased risk.

False Creek resident Catherine Simpson said she's not opposed to supportive housing but is unclear on how the vetting process will prevent the housing project from being filled with "100 per cent addicts."

Derek Palaschuk, a spokesperson for Vancouver Caring Citizens Association in Marpole, and False Creek resident Catherine Simpson spoke with CBC about their concerns with modular housing projects in their neighbourhoods. (CBC)

Notices have been delivered to residents in the area, and public community meetings have been held in the case of the most recently proposed development in False Creek, according to Paul Mochrie, the city's deputy city manager.

He said the effort is being made to inform those with concerns and thinks it's unfair to categorize all higher needs tenants as violent offenders or addicts.

"That can be needs associated with a whole range of different challenges, whether those be physical health conditions, mental health conditions and so on … Those individuals do live in our city. We do need to find places for them to live," said Mochrie.

Matching services to tenants

B.C. Housing does its best to pair individuals with the services they need through their own vetting process, aided by the  housing project's non-profit operator. It says it  hopes that if the proper supports are provided to tenants' specific needs, it will reduce the potential risk to the community.

"The key will be matching them to the building where they're going to be appropriately housed, and if there were concerns an individual is not a good fit for a building or a neighbourhood that would be taken into account in the tenanting process," Mochrie said, which involves a community advisory committee to ensure ongoing communication between the operator and the community.

The city has not yet received a development permit application for the proposed modular housing project on West Second Avenue, but Mochrie said once it's submitted they will hold more public meetings to discuss concerns in more detail.

"We're moving fast, but we're doing our best to ensure that the neighbourhoods are aware of what's going on."

To hear the full interview with Paul Mochrie listen to media below:

With files from On The Coast


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.