National Leaders In Affordable Homeownership Honour The Role Of Vancouver’s Forgotten Life Givers

401 Jackson Ave (DP-2021-00481) / 460 E Hastings Street – Ch’ich’iyúy Elxwíkn
It was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, and having just taken a penalty, Montreal was down 1-0 at the end of the second. In other words, it was the “perfect” time for an Urban Design Panel meeting. That wasn’t a problem for me, as Hannah and I are Canuck’s fans, though some of these members were clearly hoping to catch the game. That hope proved as naïve as the belief our team will overcome their curse anytime soon.

City policy played a role in this, as it requires an “L-shaped” building on this site, meaning the non-profit/indigenous partnership who owns this sausage factory was at the mercy of their neighbour. Unfortunately, the person who owns and occupies these two adjacent townhomes refused what the design team called several reasonable offers, insisting on a “ludicrous sum” instead. Which created a huge challenge for a project seeking to provide a first of its kind form of affordable home-ownership (ALHO) in Canada (pg 10).

A compromise to move it ahead relied on both the local development plan (Pg 7, 1.3), and the proclaimed year of reconciliation, yet necessitated an extra degree of scrutiny, including this review. What value that provided is debatable, as every panellist clearly supported allowing the requested height, and massing relaxations to save this commendable concept. Still, like them, I appreciated the opportunity to listen to a Knowledge Keeper detail this area’s rich heritage, and how this vision would help honour it.

That’s been the aspiration of several recently approved applications, which bring both basketweave patterns, and rooftop longhouses to a series of Hasting Street locations (1, 2, 3). Nor will this be the last, as it was revealed there are similar redevelopment plans for the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society and the Urban Native Youth Association sites. These volunteers were excited to see that narrative continue, even if it was more muted here, as the source of this building’s appearance is across Burrard Inlet.

Which is appropriate considering these Twin Sisters were immortalized for making peace between the nation’s of their family and northern husbands. That tale is far more inspiring than a name selected by someone who only moved to our province reluctantly, and underscores why this team chose to champion our regions forgotten life-bringers. I lack the skill to accurately capture their names, but I can reflect this body’s approval for how their portraits would enliven the public realm.

However, the decisions to include three homes at the highly visible corner of Hastings and Jackson, with only a modest amount of landscaping caused confusion and apprehension. This led to a recommendation for design development to mitigate the privacy concerns of the ground level residential units on Jackson Street. They did respect the effort to relate to the residences to the south, with particular appreciation for the large mural, although they worried about the people who will live here.

While the ample rooftop landscaping and amenity areas were commended, they were troubled by the proximity of the exterior walkways to several homes. Later the chair would note the only thing that spared a recommendation on this issue was that the applicant had acknowledged early on that it needed work. This trust only went so far, as an explanation that the style of this community space would need to wait until an occupant/provider was selected failed to earn similar leniency.

The resulting recommendation called for design development to enhance the expression of social services entry along Hastings Street. That said, even the most critical individual praised this extremely beneficial proposal, and in their last act in this role, joined a unanimously approved motion of support. By then the Lighting were champions, and you won’t need overtime either to send your comments to project facilitator, Jonathan Borsa, at jonathan.borsa@vancouver.ca or 604-871-6021 before the Development Permit Board decides its fate on September 20th, 2021.

You can view more images from this meeting here on our Instagram.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Partnership – Aboriginal Land Trust Society, Atira Women’s Resource Society, and Terra Housing Consultants Ltd
Architects – Urban Arts Architecture
Landscape Architects – ETA Landscape Architecture

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