Heather Place is a non-profit housing complex built in 1982 by the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC). Today it includes 86 homes, two thirds of which rent to tenants at non-market rates while the remaining third of tenants are subsidized on a rent-geared-to-income basis.
In 2010 it was publicly announced that Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation was contemplating either the demolition or repair of Heather Place. In a letter from September 29th, 2010, MVHC Manager Don Littleford explained to tenants that the difference between Heather Place and other housing complexes that have been repaired is that at Heather Place, “the land under the buildings is very valuable.” In February of 2012, Terra Housing Consultants advised Littleford that redevelopment plans “would generate approximately $7,000,000 in additional value.”
Littleford is pitching the planned densification of the site as a contribution to the city’s affordable housing stock. Yet in his own words, “market rents for new suites will be substantially higher.” In a letter to MVHC, City of Vancouver Rezoning Planner Karen Hoese informed Littleford that, “City-wide policy supports consideration of new affordable housing and other public benefits such as child care” but that Littleford’s Heather Place proposal “does not provide a directly identifiable public benefit.”
Significantly, the planner decided that replacing 26 of the 86 non-market units cannot be considered a public benefit of rezoning given that the current zoning requires these units. The public benefit of non-profit housing would be lost if 60 non-market units were replaced with housing at “substantially higher” rates. Nonetheless, Littleford and Vancouver’s politicians have thrown their support behind the redevelopment plan.