“Vancouver council allows microsuites but critic wonders how this fits into affordable housing strategy”

Apr. 6, 2016 – The Georgia Straight

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Rendering of the six-storey rental building on Gore Avenue. CITY OF VANCOUVER

For $850 a month, renters can have a microsuite at a new Vancouver development in Strathcona

The six-storey building east of Chinatown will have 10 of these dwelling units, each measuring less than 300 square feet.

On Tuesday (April 5), city council approved the form of development for the project at 303 East Pender Street (formerly 450 Gore Avenue). That was the last administrative motion at council level before construction starts for the market-rental development that will have a total of 61 units.

Starting rents for studios will be $1,100. Two-bedroom units will go for $1,850. The building will have retail on the ground level.

Council considered the developer’s rezoning application last year. Staff advised council that the 61 units will contribute to the “diversity of affordable housing” in the city.

Before council approved the rezoning, it received a letter from a director of a group that owns and operates a low-income-housing facility for Chinese seniors south of the site.

In his letter, Michael Tan of the Chau Luen Kon Sol Society of Vancouver raised doubts about how the development fits into the city’s affordable-housing strategy.

The high-tech executive said in an interview last month that he remains worried about the all-market project in a traditionally low-income area. According to him, these developments cause property values to increase, bringing up taxes that chip away at the ability of low-income-housing providers like his group to maintain their services.

“To have no element of nonmarket housing,” Tan told the Georgia Straight by phone, “that’s particularly concerning.”

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