Construction is underway on a new $12.2-million housing development in downtown Vancouver that will offer safe, affordable housing with support services for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and for Aboriginal people who travel to the city for medical treatment.
"Our Government is pleased to partner with the Province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver on this important project that will have a profound impact on the Aboriginal community in Vancouver," said the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. "This project is creating jobs and boosting our economy, while improving the quality of life for British Columbia residents."
"To help end homelessness we are creating housing that includes the supports people need to regain their independence," said Rich Coleman, British Columbia's Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Housing. "This approach has made a difference, and we owe much of our success to strong partnerships with other levels of government and community organizations. This development will be welcomed by the community and to those who will call it home."
The building at 31 W. Pender is on the site of the former Pender Hotel, one of 24 Single Room Occupancy hotels the Province purchased in Vancouver to preserve existing housing stock. The hotel was demolished with care to preserve the heritage façade of the original building, which will be incorporated into the new design.
In addition to 24 apartments of supportive housing, the development will contain 13 Healing Lodge apartments, providing 20 beds, designed for Aboriginal people who live in rural and remote communities who must travel to Vancouver for medical services. The building will have a commercial kitchen, an art gallery and a basement workshop as well as culturally-appropriate services, such as a Sweat Lodge and Smudge Room.
"In the last few years, we've made significant progress in helping people on the street find homes and rebuild their lives, whether it is through shelters, transition housing, or supportive housing," said Mayor of the City of Vancouver Gregor Robertson. "This new project builds on our success, and moves us closer to not just ending street homelessness by 2015, but ensuring that everyone in Vancouver has a home."
Once complete, the building will be managed and operated by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, who also own and operate the adjacent site. For 20 years the society has been dedicated to providing housing for the urban Aboriginal community. They also provide programs that enrich the lives of their tenants and others in the community.
"We look forward to opening this new building as it will be a beacon in the city for those seeking healing and transformation," said David Eddy, CEO of the Vancouver Native Housing Society. "Architecturally we believe it will be a landmark structure, marrying Victorian and Aboriginal culture and heritage - recognizing the Victorian style of the original building while making a unique statement of the value and import of the first peoples that have inhabited this area for millennia. It will not only provide appropriate housing and services to those without a home, but it will also provide affordable housing for Aboriginal people travelling to Vancouver for healthcare during a time when they may be vulnerable and in need of support and a connection to their culture. My thanks to our partners at all levels of government for helping us make this happen."
The Government of Canada has committed $3.5 million through Infrastructure Canada's Infrastructure Stimulus Fund as well as $451,500 through the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
The Province will provide a $4-million provincial infrastructure grant as well as land equity valued at approximately $2.8 million for the development.
The City of Vancouver will waive development cost charges valued at approximately $156,000. The remaining funds, approximately $1.3 million, will be financed.
As part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan, the $4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund is providing funding to more than 4,100 infrastructure projects across the country. Since March 2009, a total federal investment of over $505.6 million has been committed to well over 400 projects under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund across British Columbia.
Over the last decade, the Province has invested $2.8 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families. This year, more than 93,000 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services.
* For further information on the Government of Canada's infrastructure investments in British Columbia, visit: www.creatingjobs.gc.ca
* To learn more about Canada's Economic Action Plan, visit: www.actionplan.gc.ca
* For information on provincial housing programs: www.bchousing.org/Initiatives/Creating/PHI
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