British Columbia

Richmond modular housing project raises questions for some residents

A group of residents called the 7300 Group opposes the project because of what they say is a lack of transparency and consultation. Even a supporter of the project admits the consultation has been poor.

Both opponents and supporters say consultation with community by city, BC Housing, inadequate

An online City of Richmond document included this artist's rendering of the proposed project, to be built at 7300 Elmbridge Way. (City of Richmond)

A proposal to build temporary housing for homeless people is dividing the people of Richmond.

The project, slated for 7300 Elmbridge Way in the Brighouse neighbourhood just off Westminster Highway, aims to provide 40 units of supportive housing for five years and includes two meals a day, life-skills training and access to health services, according to a city statement.

But a group of residents called the 7300 Group opposes the project because of what they say is a lack of transparency and consultation.

"We care about homeless people. We are part of the community. [But] it seems to me we were left out when the city was making decisions," spokesperson Ivan Pak told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko.

Pak says there are still too many unknowns about the project and how it will be operated. He says the only information people in the community have received is a two-page questionnaire and an open-house session.

"[An] open house, to my point of view, is not public consultation," he said.

Pak says his group wants to help homeless people but since this is the first such project for the city, they don't want it to be rushed.

De Whalen, chair of Richmond Poverty Response Committee, supports the project as a way to help deal with Richmond's homeless population, which she says has gone up 84 per cent in the last homeless count.

But she agrees with Pak that communication has been poor.

"BC Housing, the government and the City of Richmond really should know better," Whalen said. "If there's any kind of a different housing model being put in the community, there's going to be NIMBYism. And they should have been prepared for that. And they weren't."

A spokesperson with the city said public engagement on this project is not complete.

"More engagement activities are being planned. We have not issued anything formal yet because staff are still in the processing of planning next steps and timeline," Ted Townsend responded in an email.

He said the input collected from surveys and individual letters will be considered by council in the next round of consultation, which will include a review of the development permit followed by an open council meeting where the public will have the opportunity to speak.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the project as a shelter. It is, in fact, a supportive housing project.
    Mar 26, 2018 6:31 PM PT

now