Report on TMH Sessions

with 2 comments

 
Temporary Modular Housing Community Information Sessions
Held on 13 and 14 December 2017 for 4410 Kaslo Street Site

 
Our own specific formal comment to the City of Vancouver on the siting of Temporary Modular Housing at 4410 Kaslo Street is provided as a yet-to-come separate posting to Eye on Norquay. The purpose of the account that follows is to document with comment the two evenings of interaction between Norquay and area residents and the various officials.

 
Overall Impression

On 13 and 14 December 2017 Eye on Norquay observed and participated in the full three hours of both of the two “Community Information Sessions” about the new Temporary Modular Housing (TMH) proposed for 4410 Kaslo Street across from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain Station.

What became most apparent was that five bureaucratic entities are converging to try to deliver on multiple present and upcoming TMH projects, and themselves are in the early stages of ironing out their relationships. The consequence is that these sessions for the community offered very little solid and specific information.

 

 
     Panel 5 — Addressing the Immediate Needs of Homeless People
 

Perhaps the most extensive news reporting on the event came from CTV News Vancouver on 14 December 2017. That coverage highlighted the policing of the meeting. On the first evening Eye on Norquay noticed three security guards who tightly controlled entrance and exit, and two VPD, one in uniform and one undercover.

Some of this atmosphere carried over from officialdom’s serious miscalculation in its earlier approach to bringing TMH to Marpole. The short version of that failure is that five agencies paid no attention to the history of the particular recently mass-rezoned local area minefield that they were dashing into. They were too busy focusing on themselves and their joint rapid move on Marpole, apparently unaware that Marpole was already a remarkably self-organized local community.

 
Haste and Disregard

The most obvious word to describe the “process” for the Kaslo site would be haste. On 1 December 2017 the City of Vancouver unveiled the 4410 Kaslo Street site TMH proposal via a news release. At about the same time a notification sheet was distributed to houses adjacent to the site. This timing of no more than seven working days prior to the first session fell considerably short of the usual minimum of ten days. Add to that the setting of meeting dates for less than two weeks before Christmas.

An email sent to housing@vancouver.ca on the evening of 14 December 2017 asked for a posting of the presented materials to the TMH web site. Twenty-four hours later there had been no response — neither an email reply, nor a fulfillment of the request.

On this basis and in this circumstance, local area residents are expected to provide their “input” between 13 and 22 December 2017. This kind of treatment can only confirm the cynicism of many residents who expect that the City of Vancouver intends to race ahead and will show little respect for anything they may have to say.

 
The Materials

In written form, the sessions provided two written documents —

Temporary Modular Housing Factsheet  (2 p.)   [tailored to the 4410 Kaslo Street site]

Draft Operations Management Plan, 4410 Kaslo Street, Vancouver, Rapid Response to Homelessness, Temporary Modular Housing  /  Atira Women’s Resource Society  (6 p.)

— and 17 display panels.

Since Atira learned of its selection as operator only a few days prior to the information sessions, it seems plausible that its six-page “draft plan” consists of nothing more than a rapidly tweaked version of their initial boilerplate “expression of interest” to the City of Vancouver about becoming a TMH operator. The specifics of the agreement between the two parties have yet to be negotiated. This means that the “information” that could be presented to local area residents amounted to generic aspirations only. This would explain the unwillingness and/or inability of officials to provide any useful answer to the number one question: Who would be living in the 50 TMH units proposed for 4410 Kaslo Street?

Beyond this, the panels disappointingly failed to provide information that did exist, could have been presented, and was being asked for by residents. Three prime examples:

 

 
     Map of Sites Already Announced
 

 

 
     Criteria for Site Selection
     http://council.vancouver.ca/20171004/documents/pspc2.pdf
 

 

 
     Details from Temporary Modular Housing Contract Approval  (4 Oct 2017)
     http://council.vancouver.ca/20171004/documents/pspc2.pdf
 

Eye on Norquay observed the person named in the above external documentation (tweet of 14 December 2017) aggressively deflecting and stonewalling on this particular frequently asked question. The City Council administrative report of 4 October 2017 constitutes relevant information that was actively withheld from the “Community Information Sessions.” Such an approach does not inspire trust.

 
The Timeline and Who “Decides”

Apart from panel 5 above, the panel image that follows is the only material that Eye on Norquay finds useful enough to reproduce here. The “next step” for the local community appears to consist of a single opportunity to react to an already-applied-for development permit.

 

 
     Panel 15 — Development Permit Process for Input
 

It is difficult to make sense of what this panel title could mean. Residents were told that General Manager of Planning Gil Kelley will make “a decision” following the second meeting. Few believe that this decision could be anything other than a yes.

Eye on Norquay has suggested to staff that the honest approach would be to say that Council has made the decision already, and that staff must act as the agent of Council. To displace that “decision” away from Council only fosters undeserved scorn for staff. No City Councillor made even a brief appearance at the contentious scene. For Councillors to avoid the difficult situations created by their decisions has become standard practice.

The disconnect between what TMH project leaders say and what can plainly be seen to be happening should embarrass all who speak to the issues. The official narrative maintains that what residents say matters, is taken very seriously, and might possibly even result in a decision to not locate TMH at 4410 Kaslo Street. The reality encompasses

        The politics of a growing homeless population that must be seen to be dealt with
        Few City of Vancouver sites that can satisfy the present criteria for TMH locations
        An initial $66 million that must be spent on TMH as quickly as possible
        Multiple agencies that by definition will prioritize behind-the-scenes “negotiating”
          of their own competing bureaucratic interests

 
Who Was in the Room?

The persons and departments/agencies at the sessions included:

Abi Bond
Director of Affordable Housing, Community Services
abigail.bond@vancouver.ca

Allison Dunnett
Senior Planner, Housing Policy and Projects
allison.dunnet@vancouver.ca

Ethel Whitty
Director, Homelessness Services
ethel.whitty@vancouver.ca

Luke Harrison
Director/Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA)
luke.harrison@vaha.ca

David Williams
Project Director, Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA)
david.williams@vaha.ca

Brenda Prosken
Regional Director, BC Housing
???

Janice Abbott
Chief Executive Officer, Atira Women’s Resource Society
janice_abbott@atira.bc.ca

Jennifer Gray-Grant
Executive Director, Collingwood Neighbourhood House
jgray-grant@cnh.bc.ca

Unspecified Person(s)
Vancouver Coastal Health

 
The Unspeakable Good News

The serious shortcomings outlined above add to the City of Vancouver’s ignominious reputation for mistreating its residents. At least a token acknowledgment of the recent planning context established for Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre would have been appropriate.

At the level of mere logic, the City would not serve its own interests well by flubbing any aspect of delivering TMH at this location. Mishaps would only further poison the well that the City must drink from extensively in 2018, with the start of the “station area planning” that is designated as a top priority of the Housing Vancouver Strategy approved in late November 2017.

Eye on Norquay senses that the implementation of TMH at 4410 Kaslo Street will significantly and specifically deal with fears that we heard expressed at the community information sessions. Perhaps the foremost fear is for the safety of children.

Our assessment is based on six to ten hours of two experienced persons listening carefully to what high-level staff (see listing above) had to say — and then putting all of that together and reading between the lines. There seems to be a reassuring background that the staff can barely hint at.

In a very unusual move, we judge it best in this particular case to avoid elaborating on the positives that we perceive. For the sake of the neighborhood, let’s all hope that our optimistic intuitions match up with the TMH realization.
 

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Written by eyeonnorquay

16 December 2017 at 8:51 pm

2 Responses

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  1. By the way, 155 East 37th is
    http://www.morethanaroof.org/vancouversingle/city-heights
    the City Heights seniors complex…..

    Bill L

    12 March 2018 at 9:18 pm

  2. I’m guessing you’re clarifying on recent Tweet about this site as possible next TMH location. Thanks for that. It seems better not to cross platforms, though. Not much direct connection between this information and this particular Eye on Norquay posting.

    eyeonnorquay

    13 March 2018 at 9:47 pm


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