The Wait is Almost Over – Moderate Income Rental Housing Finally Comes to West Point Grey

37013743 West Broadway
It may not get a lot of attention, but Broadway and Alma is easily one of the most important intersections in our city. As a UBC alumna, I cannot count how many times every year I balanced on the 99 B-Line as it snaked around these corners on my way to and from the West Point Grey Campus. Often I would stop to grab a Slurpee from 7-11, or a treat from Professor and the Pigeon after a hard day.

Sadly, that place where Darren and I learned how to bake macarons closed a couple years ago. That is fine, as these changes are part of the natural ebb and flow of a city, and the memories we made there stay with us. Still, it is no secret that businesses in the area have been hurting even before one of the nearby Safeway stores closed last year. Much like our region’s hospitals, it is difficult to keep staff when they cannot afford to live nearby.

IMG_3806

Abandoned 2016 Application
Which is why I was so excited two years ago when I learned about a proposal to replace the strip mall at the northwest corner of this intersection. While that design felt limited, offering only 90 rental homes, it had plenty of potential. Recognizing that, one day in the future, this area will be linked to the Broadway Subway, the building was designed to expand up to 12 floors. Yet, after the open house, things fell quiet, a little too quiet.

So, despite feeling overwhelmed with how much time we spend on civic engagement, we made some enquiries to see what we could discover. After learning about the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, and that the developer had switched architectural firms, we made an educated guess that the developer was planning something that should bring a smile to many who rent in Vancouver.

Broadway and Alma Neighbourhood

-Source (pg 4)

Now, thanks to several people contacting us with copies of their notification cards, we can safely say we were right. It is exciting to see a plan that will allow so many people the opportunity to live near where they work and go to school. As part of the MIRHPPs program, the application offers 14 floors of housing, at least 20% of which is dedicated to households with incomes between 30 – 80 thousand dollars a year.

This means that, by the time the proposal is approved and built, a couple making minimum wage will be able to afford to make their home here. One development cannot solve the housing crisis alone, but it can improve the lives of those who serve us coffee, stock our store’s shelves, care for us in hospitals, and teach our children. The neighbourhood kids will likely appreciate some new friends to play with too, as several of the area’s schools are under capacity.

3701 - 3743 W Broadway Notice.jpg

Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself; after all, there was some hesitation at the open house two years ago when the proposal was only 6 storeys tall. While there are already several buildings similar in height on Alma, they were built several decades ago. This was before the 1970s down-zoning that saw much of Vancouver’s western neighbourhoods turned into areas that only permit duplexes and single family homes.

Maybe it is too early to assume these badly needed homes will become a reality, as that fate will largely be decided by those who turn out. So, whether you live in the area, travel past it on the bus every day, or hope to call it home, make sure to come out to Lord Byng Secondary School on May 16th from 5 – 7:30 pm and have your say.

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