Big day for BC Housing as last building goes down at Little Mountain

BC Housing finally flattens the last of 45 buildings at the Little Mountain Housing Project this week. The demolition took place on Tuesday December 16, 2014.

X-Karin&XmasDemo

Karin Nicholetti, the last tenant to move out, payed her respects.

X-MasDemo02

The last 3 Tenants had fought for and won a 5 year demolition reprieve. BC Housing attempted two times, in 2009 and 2012 to evict them.

The redevelopment of Little Mountain has been a failure. So much so that BC Housing is now taking a new approach: they intend to sell all their social housing assets to non profit organizations. This new intiative (as always with out any public consultation) will transform the housing portfolio from government responsibility to charity work. Such a profound change deserves some sober second thought. The first housing project to be sold will be Stamps Place.
X-MasDemo04_v3
When I shot this scene I assumed it would be the end of my film.  I was wrong.  Rich Coleman, the Minister of Housing was to cut the ribbon on the first new building in the spring of 2015.  I will shoot that meeting, and my final words with the Minister before I begin to edit the film.

With your financial support we can make a truly great film.  It’s never too late to make get involved. Find out more about the fundraising campaign at littlemountainfilm.com
Sincerely
David Vaisbord

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The Long Goodbye to the Last Rowhouse at Little Mountain

BC Housing prepares the last Little Mountain Rowhouse for demolition.

Long_Goodbye2Last week a good friend of mine who is a Vancouver artist, informed me that she had just received an eviction notice from her studio.  I thought right…here’s another instance of how its getting harder and harder for anyone except the international business class to afford to live here.  The Vision party is doing what they can, a couple of months ago they held a lottery to chose one arts group – out of dozens – who would get one new studio space in Vancouver.  Forgive me if I’m underwhelmed.

Meanwhile a building at Little Mountain with 6 good suites of over 12,000 total square feet awaits demolition.  Any major dude who knew Vancouver development politics would tell you that this spot on the Little Mountain site won’t be ready for construction for at least five years.  But who’s counting.

It will be gone by Christmas.

David
ps:  I voted today.  I hope you did too.

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BC Housing is at it again!

BC Housing is poised to sell off another major piece of it’s social housing property in Vancouver, and as per usual there will be no public consultation. I hope to have some media to post on this project soon.

Meanwhile: Read about in at City Hall Watch:
http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/stamps-place-sale-opposed

Take this link to Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre’s website where the information originates.

David V
The Little Mountain Film

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What has been going on at Little Mountain?

What has been going on at Little Mountain?
CleaningUP_1
In the last rays of sun in Sept/Oct 2014 the owner (BC Housing or Holborn?) did a complete site cleanup, consisting of cutting the grass, trimming the trees, covering their root systems with fresh sod, and removing the rotting orange fences which once surrounded them.

Remains of Orange Fencing around Little Mountain trees

Remains of Orange Fencing around Little Mountain trees

The old orange fences were erected to protect the trees from damage during a construction boom that never happened. Instead they rotted in place, year upon year becoming more weathered and decrepit. As unsightly as they were, they provided a visual reminder of how much time had elapsed since promises were made to rebuild Little Mountain Housing.

Photo: David Vaisbord

Photograph: 4 Seasons of Little Mountain – David Vaisbord

Now they are gone and Little Mountain almost resembles a park. Ask anyone who walks by, and they’ll probably respond that they don’t remember what was there anymore.  Cutting the grass at Little Mountain where fencing once stood.

Cutting the grass at Little Mountain at the base of a tree once surrounded by orange fencing.

Landscaping at Little Mountain Fall 2014

Landscaping at Little Mountain Fall 2014

Stroller in waiting.

Little Mountain seems more park-like now that the orange fences are gone.  What was once the first social housing project in BC passes slowly into oblivion.

Well…not completely…more to come.
David V.

Support this film project at littlemountainfilm.com

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New Banners produced at Vancouver’s “Draw by Night” Event

Hey Friends,

I’m putting up a NEW BANNER SERIES, produced for The Little Mountain Film during a very successful DRAW BY NIGHTsession held in March 2014 at the VFS campus cafe.

Draw By Night for Little Mountain by Anonymous

Draw By Night for Little Mountain Film by Anonymous

The images will revolve throughout the fundraising campaign for The Little Mountain Film.

Thank you to visual artist Kristina Fiedrich and her team of volunteers.

Here is this week’s sketch in its entirety. This artist of this sketch forgot to put their name on it. Whoever drew it please contact me!

Last week’s original sketch was by Natalia Parra:

If you have a great sketch of Little Mountain or a drawing that you think represents the theme of HOUSING, send it to me and I’ll put it up.

Click on the Housing icon to the below to visit the NEW WEB SITE and participate in the campaign to FUND THE LITTLE MOUNTAIN FILM:

We can’t do it without you.
David Vaisbord

This is the icon above – just click on it!
Yes you can…

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Little Mountain Film – The Funding Campaign Launches Today!

Just click on the icon below to be redirected to the documentary film fundraising site:

I’m ecstatic to be finally embarking on campaign to fund the Little Mountain Film. After six years in the making, I’m ready to share this story with the world. Thank you all for joining me on the journey. Most of you have been involved in the fight for Little Mountain for just as long as I have. I’m hoping that finishing this film will create a way to get the word out about what happened at Little Mountain – the good, the bad, the ups, and the downs. Please join me in making finishing this film. Check out our crowd-funding campaign HERE and let the world hear about Little Mountain.

There’s a NEW website dedicated to the film here:   http://www.littlemountainfilm.com/
Come on board SHARE with your friends, and we can finish this film!

Please note, that I will be blogging on both this site and the Little Mountain Film site for the duration of the campaign.

David V

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Georgia Straight Article on the last tenants of Little Mountain

Hi Friends,

I met Georgia Straight writer Carlito Pablo at Little Mountain last week, and he included me in the article he wrote this week:  Sam and Joan article in Georgia Straight
It talks about the passing of both Joan (which I shared on this blog) and Sammy.

I’ve not had a moment to spare since I committed to launch an Indiegogo Funding Campaign for the feature documentary film, and spent the last 4 weeks in my edit studio cutting a 4 minute trailer. It boils down to a week a minute.

I regret not having time to post about the passing of Sammy (Sim) Chang, but once the campaign is up and running I’ll have to time to go back and write the post in a few days, now that the campaign is up and running.

Here’s how to get there:

Go to a new dedicated website at:

http://www.littlemountainfilm.com/

or directly to the INDIEGOGO crowdfunding site at:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/little-mountain-film

The funding campaign runs from May 9 to Jun 23rd.

Please come on board and contribute to this project.

Sincererly,

David & my Indiegogo Fundraising Team

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Heather Place learns lessons from Little Mountain travesty

Warning: Lack of truth beyond this sign - Little Mountain 2014

Warning: Lack of truth beyond this sign – Little Mountain 2014

Barry Growe has a new article in The Tyee, in which he links the fight to preserve social housing at Little Mountain, with recent developments at Heather Place.

The article is titled:
An Authentic First Step for Affordable Housing?
Let’s Hope Vancouver’s Heather Place learns from Little Mountain’s big mistakes.

Barry and the tenants at Heather Place, including Karen Gilchrist and Tamara Szymanska will be speaking to City Council at City Hall next week, on April 15, and I will be there to record their presentations and their thoughts on the process, for a future post.

There are many lessons to be learned at Little Mountain. I’ll cover them in my documentary.

The fundraising campaign launches on May 1st!
Check out my new FACEBOOK site at Little Mountain Film.

Cheers,
David V

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Densification Wars

On January 19th 2014, one of the world’s leading authorities on community engagement, Dr. Wendy Sarkissian spoke to Vancouver residents about the successes and failures of community engagement in Canada, Australia and the USA.

“Densification Wars” A Conversation with Dr. Wendy Sarkissian PhD from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Have the last three years of community engagement at Little Mountain been a success?  That depends on who you talk to and there’s more to come in 2014.  Prior to Dr. Sarkissian’s talk, I speak for a minute about my commitment to The Little Mountain Project and ask for support for my upcoming crowdfunding campaign, this spring.

If you send me your email address, I will be able to keep you up to date on details about the campaign, to be launched in the spring.  Alternatively you can Facebook friend me or follow me on Twitter. My email is: vaisbord@gmail.com.

Dr. Sarkissian speak with Mount Pleasant and Little Mountain community, January 2014.

Dr. Sarkissian inspires Vancouver citizens in January 2014. (littlemountainproject.com).

Moderated by Stephen Bohus, the conversation took place at the Mount Pleasant Community Centre. Urbanist and community advocate Ned Jacobs begins the conversation. The following information was provided by the organizers prior to the event:

“Densification Wars.” Community Planning in New South Wales and Vancouver:
A public conversation with Dr. Wendy Sarkissian, Ned Jacobs, and You!

Dr. Wendy Sarkissian, lives and practices community planning in the Australian state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, a city experiencing similar growth and affordability pressures as Vancouver. She is co-author of the award-winning book Housing as if People Matteredand three recent books on community engagement. Dr. Sarkissian grew up in Vancouver and was an adjunct professor at the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning. Her PhD was in Environmental Ethics and Planning Education.

Jacobs & Bohus at Dr. Sarkissian's Vancouver talk.

Jacobs & Bohus at Dr. Sarkissian’s Vancouver talk.

Ned Jacobs, a son and student of the late urbanist Jane Jacobs, is an advocate for environmental sustainability, social/affordable housing, high quality urban design, and civic electoral reform. He serves on volunteer advisory groups for the redevelopment of Little Mountain Housing and the Cambie Corridor, and is the Riley Park/South Cambie Community Visions Group liaison to the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods.

Keep up to date with me, and about the project on my Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Thank you.
David Vaisbord

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Seasons Greetings from The Little Mountain Project

Hello to all of my friends in The Little Mountain neighbourhood and beyond!

It’s the time of year to be thankful for the family, friends and communities who contribute to our lives.
I hope that you enjoy this two-minute Holiday video-card.

Xmas at Little Mountain 2013 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Filmmaker and three of the four last tenants of the Little Mountain Housing Project:  Ingrid Steenhuisen, Joan and Sammy Chang (Not pictured: Karin Nicholetti)

Filmmaker and three of the four last tenants of the Little Mountain Housing Project: Ingrid Steenhuisen, Joan and Sammy Chang (not in picture: Karin Nicholetti)

Happy Holidays and a Spendid 2014!
Love,
David Vaisbord & Family

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Social Housing that is Edifying

“Edify” According to the Mirriam Webster Dictionary:
Definition #1: To teach (someone) in a way that improves the mind or character.

Edifying New Social Housing Rises at Little Mountain in Vancouver - David Vaisbord Photo

Edifying New Social Housing Rises at Little Mountain in Vancouver – David Vaisbord Photo

Rising from the ground at Little Mountain is an edifying example of social housing in Vancouver. I call it “edifying” because as the first new building of a large master-planned community, it sets the height of the bar to which all new housing on the Little Mountain site – market or social housing included – must rise to.  In addition, the seamless integration of social housing with other eventual forms of housing on the site will have to follow a model of urban planning, where it is  impossible to tell social from market housing.

An angled profile meets East 37th Avenue and Main streets in Vancouver - David Vaisbord Photo

An angled profile meets East 37th Avenue and Main streets in Vancouver – David Vaisbord Photo

But look around, you can’t help but notice it’s the only construction site on a massive empty lot. Which begs the question, why is it being built?  The answer to that one is the most edifying of all.  It’s a story about 3 families who resisted eviction and with the assistance of their community, won a major victory. That’s a story that can now be told 5 years after it began, as the results of their struggle slowly rises from the ground.

The Little Mountain Story is your story. You are the community who fought to save Little Mountain.  So please stay tuned for more information on the launch of the Little Mountain Project documentary funding campaign in 2014.

And if you would like to take part in the strategy of this funding campaign, we need your passion and ideas. Contact me by email ASAP at:  vaisbord@gmail.com.

The Long View - Little Mountain's new social housing - David Vaisbord Photo

The Long View – Little Mountain’s new social housing – David Vaisbord Photo

According to Phillip Scott, Holborn’s new Development Manager, the completion date of this new seniors housing is the fall of 2014 or the spring of 2015.

The Longer View at Little Mountain:  This new building sits on 16 acres of wasteland - David Vaisbord photo.

The Longer View at Little Mountain: This new building sits on 16 acres of wasteland – David Vaisbord Photo.

Coda:
Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail writes that much of the criticism of densification in Vancouver is based on worries about the Social Housing component.  Where does he get his information?  I get mine at ground level.  My neighbourhood is fighting for more units of social and affordable housing at Little Mountain.

Sincerely,
David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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Meet the NEW architect for Little Mountain – Gary Andrishak

Welcome to the LMP screening room.  

For those of you who missed this meeting last week at the Hillcrest Community Centre, here is your video update. Gary’s talk begins around the 7 minute mark.

Advisory Committee Meeting 38: Meeting the New Architect from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

Andrishak has stated that he does not see LM as a tower site. He quoted urban design educator and writer Jan Gehl, “a city is not the buildings alone, it’s the spaces between them that matter most.” The Advisory Committee has been concerned about urban space at Little Mountain since 2010. If you want to feel like you were there, open a second window and click through his PowerPoint PDF (courtesy of Vancouver Planning) as he speaks.

In the Q&A that follows Deborah Butler – one of the 7 members of the Advisory Committee who drafted the Community’s Position on the Policy Statement – compliments Andrishak on his presentation, but urges him to consider the neighbourhood’s criticisms of the policy statement as ratified by City Council in 2012.  I would encourage Andrishak to review both Advisory Committee Meeting 35, and Part 1 of the City Hall session of June 2012, which deal with density and height. The Little Mountain Policy Statement itself can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Other subjects covered in the meeting are:

  • The timetable of the Rezoning Process.
  • Rightsizing the retail component of the project.
  • Employing swails to deal with excess water on the property.
  • How the legibility and visibility of ground floor entryways can enhance community.
  • Inclusive design that fits many generations of user.
  • Re-energizing the community around this NEW rezoning process, through new signage around the property or by other means.
  • The constant evolution of the project, and how the new building already renders the old site plan obsolete.
  • The challenges of phasing in Social Housing over the many project phases to come.
  • The timetable for completing the first Social Housing building = late 2014 or 2015.
  • The obligation for all future builders on the site to abide by the policy statement.

PS: The discussion gets heated, and humourous at the end.

With my compliments to all participants in the room.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project.
Know MORE at littlemountainproject.com

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: THE GOOD! The design panel looks at plans for the First NEW building at Little Mountain

A new 3-part blog series on The Little Mountain Project.
Part 1

Although I’ve written about the preparation and groundbreaking at Little Mountain in 2013, I wanted to write something about the first 6 months of this year at Little Mountain. And the activities have been so varied and bizarre that the only way to describe them was: Good, Bad, and Ugly. So without further ado…THE GOOD!

THE GOOD
Developer begins building social housing at Little Mountain for seniors!

Urban Design panel #3 – The Little Mountain Project from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

In January 2013 the plans for the construction of the 1st new building at Little Mountain were released. They were publicly revealed for the first time, to Vancouver City’s Urban Design Panel, see above. The panel was impressed. The new social housing is of moderate height and very well designed. Actually, it’s spectacular! Congratulations to the architectural firm of Glair Williams, to James KM Cheng architects and the Holborn Group for welcoming the highly competent and imaginative Glair Williams firm into the project.

Model of new building reviewed at Urban Design Panel

Model of new building reviewed at Urban Design Panel

Congratulations also to the community and activists who thwarted BC Housing’s dreams of demolishing the last occupied building, and compelled the government into thinking about the redevelopment of Little Mountain in a smarter and more humane way. As a result, 53 units of new seniors housing will be fast-tracked. This is particularly good news for senior citizens, who were among the hardest hit by the relocation process. Separated from their beloved neighbourhood, old friends and shopping patterns, many were highly stressed. Many complained of substandard replacement housing, and could not wait to return. Some have already passed away – the interminable wait for new housing was just that.

Rich Coleman at Little Mountain Press Conference 2013

Rich Coleman at Little Mountain Press Conference 2013

The announcement of the new building offered Rich Coleman and the BC Liberals a photo opportunity prior to the 2013 Provincial Election, and I was there to record the event (which I will integrate into feature documentary on Little Mountain).

This project was a huge win for both the activists AND the government, though I don’t think that Minister Coleman* sees it that way.

Exact location of new Little Mountain Seniors' Housing.

Exact location of new Little Mountain Seniors’ Housing. Click on image to enlarge.

*Rich Coleman, in a recent conversation with me, stated that I never had anything nice to say about Little Mountain, so I have proved him wrong, right here. There were good things to report. I don’t write the script. I merely observe the play.

Coming soon…with apologies…the bad.

Respectfully yours,
David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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Groundbreaking Event at Little Mountain attended by Housing Minister Rich Coleman

Hello Friends,

I finally had a chance to meet and talk to the Minister today. It was a brief encounter and he made it clear that he wasn’t going to add any more words to our conversation as he bristled and walked away from my camera; but nevertheless, it was satisfying to get it done. There are mythologies passed from generation to generation about how difficult it is to capture the fleeting image and words of Rich Coleman.

Coleman meets Steenhuisen and Chang

Ingrid Steenhuisen asks the Honourable Rich Coleman for an opportunity to meet and talk about social housing issues. (Sam Chang in foreground – Ms. Steenhuisen appears partially hidden behind him) Photo by David Vaisbord at the Groundbreaking at the Little Mountain Project, April 11, 2013.

Minister Coleman shook hands with Ingrid Steenhuisen and Sam Chang,(among the last tenants of the last remnant of Little Mountain Housing) and though he did not refuse Ms. Steenhuisen’s suggestion that they meet and talk about social housing concerns, he didn’t exactly set a firm date. Let me guess when that meeting might happen:  When hell freezes over.

There was very little notice given to the press (and none to the community) about when and where the press conference would take place, but in spite of the tight time frame, some key community critics of the project managed to get there on time, including David Chudnovsky and Ned Jacobs. The developer, Joo Kim Tiah; the architect, James Cheng; the head of BC Housing, Shayne Ramsay, and all of their key associates were in attendance. Apparently, they were on the invite list.

Sam Chang performs his own ground breaking ceremony at Little Mountain, April 11, 2013

Sam Chang performs his own ground breaking ceremony at Little Mountain, April 11, 2013

In his speech, Minister Coleman answered many of my questions, so I didn’t have to ask them outright. He explained what he saw when he looked out over the wasteland at Little Mountain, and his rationale for it. I recorded it and will post it asap.

Minister Rich Coleman behind Media Scrum at Little Mountain, April 2013

Minister Rich Coleman behind Media Scrum at Little Mountain, April 2013

BTW, did anybody see any coverage of the event on the evening news? During a media scrum after the main event was over, the subject swiftly changed from Little Mountain to election politics, using the Little Mountain signage as the background. That blue-coloured background was visible in several election reports, but I did not find any coverage of the groundbreaking event on television.

ps: Vote for Little Mountain Stories web project at http://www.connectthedocs.ca/
Deadline for voting is Friday April 12, 2012 @ 9pm Pacific time.

follow me on Twitter @DavidVaisbord

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Housing Minister Rich Coleman to visit Little Mountain Today!

Hello Friends,

11:45 AM this morning (April 11th) is official groundbreaking for one new building at Little Mountain and Rich Coleman will be there! UNBELIEVABLE? Nobody can remember the last time they saw him at the project, if ever.

I’m going to be there by 11am with video camera to record Coleman, the first official appearance of the author of the destruction of Little Mountain Housing. What will he see when he casts his across the landscape. It’s hard to imagine. But not to dwell on negatives, he’s here to tell us the good news, that congratulations are in order for him and his friends, as they break ground on the building that the residents and community fought so hard for.

Yesterday I shot some footage of BC Housing, sprucing up the wasteland for today’s press conference. Here it is:

Sprucing up The Wasteland at Little Mountain from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

By the way, if you haven’t voted yet for my new web project: Little Mountain Stories, take a second and make a few clicks. If I get enough votes I’ll be able to pitch this project at the Hot Docs documentary festival in Toronto – it’s just a couple of clicks, but could mean a huge difference in getting exposure and FUNDING for this project.

Please vote, and please share!
Vote for little mountain stories web project at http://www.connectthedocs.ca/

More to come
David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project

follow me on Twitter @DavidVaisbord

BANNER PHOTO: ASSEMBLED PRESS RECORD THE WORDS OF MINISTER RICH COLEMAN AT THE SOD TURNING CEREMONY, APRIL 11, 2013

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Little Mountain at City Hall: PART 2 of 2

Hello viewers,

This is the second half of the June 2012 Meeting where the Policy on Little Mountain was discussed in City Council Chambers.

City Hall meets Little Mountain June 2012: PART 2 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

For those of you came to city hall to speak, who missed work, and patiently waited for your 5 minutes to arrive, this is your chance to see how well you did on camera. There are many view expressed here. Some of the speakers represent the Little Mountain Advisory Group, others come from sectors of the community who did not attend the meetings. Some are simply friends of the developer. The speakers list was open to whoever wanted to speak.
Kudos to everyone for PARTICIPATING. Politics is an exercise which (for the most part), takes place IN PUBLIC and IN PERSON.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Project
littlemountainproject.com

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SUCCESS – Little Mountain Tenants will NOT BE EVICTED!

Friends,

This battle has been won owing to the concerted efforts of many!
The last tenants of The Little Mountain Housing Project will not be evicted by BC Housing!

Firstly, I want to recognize the last residents of Little Mountain for their heart and tenacity. It’s been their fight from the beginning. Ingrid Steenhuisen, Sammy and Joan Chang, and Karin Nicholetti have been fighting eviction for over 4 years, and this news must come as a bitter sweet vindication, as they remember the community they once lived in – one that was demolished without just cause in 2009.

To find all the PRESS related to the evictions click HERE.

Two mid-century heritage lamps at Little Mountain lay undisturbed for 3 years .

Two mid-century heritage lamps at Little Mountain lay undisturbed for 3 years .

The mobilization of people and ideas which led to the rescinding of the eviction notices, is well documented by my friends at the MAINLANDER. Please read this article by Tristan Markle and Nate Crompton, it saves me the time to repeat it here. Nate and Tristan are members of the Vancouver Renters Union, one of the key elements of this successful campaign.

The RALLY has been CANCELLED. Tonight we CELEBRATE at the screening at the Little Mountain Gallery: 195 E. 26th Avenue. The FREE screening begins at 7pm with special guests, RED 1, Sammy and Joan, Debbie Lawrance, Ingrid Steenhuisen, Ellen Wordsworth, Me (the filmmaker), and more.

Below, is the press release that came from the City of Vancouver, yesterday.

Office of the Mayor

October 25, 2012

Social housing to move forward at Little Mountain; tenants can remain on site

Vancouver –- Mayor Gregor Robertson says it is good news that social housing at Little Mountain will go ahead, and that a deal has been reached to let the remaining tenants stay on site.

The B.C. government, the City of Vancouver and Holborn Properties have signed an agreement that will allow up to 50 social housing units to be built right away at Little Mountain, prior to the completion of the rezoning process.

“Little Mountain has a long history in Vancouver, and it’s great that we’ve reached an agreement to expedite the social housing and allow the remaining residents to stay on site,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The social housing is an important first step to building a new and inclusive community at Little Mountain.”

In a solution found with BC Housing, remaining tenants will be able to stay on site without prior relocation and work can start immediately on what will eventually be 234 new social housing units. Those units are especially targeted for families and seniors, and will ensure a full bedroom-for-bedroom replacement of Little Mountain’s original social housing. BC Housing confirms that rent will remain the same – 30% of income – and the hope is that construction will begin in the first part of 2013.

The City will subdivide the lot and expedite permits to help fast-track the social housing.

It’s an agreement that honours the commitment that the replacement social housing units will be an integral part of the first phase of the new development on the Little Mountain site, and also allows households that moved off site to begin returning to their homes on an accelerated basis.

The Little Mountain property in Vancouver, bounded by 33rd to 37th Avenues between Main and Ontario Streets, is being redeveloped into a mixed-use community. As part of the development, the original 224 units of social housing will be replaced with 234 units of new social housing.

– 30-

For more information, please contact:

Braeden Caley
Executive Assistant, Media Relations and Communications
Office of the Mayor – City of Vancouver
Cell: 604-809-9951 – Email: braeden.caley@vancouver.ca

Find the Mayor’s Office on Twitter: @VanMayorsOffice
Sign up for the Mayor’s email updates: Click here

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David Chudnovsky Addresses Mayor and Council in support of Tenants of Last Building

Last week, following the screening of “The Eviction of Sammy and Joan” in Council Chambers on October 3rd, 2012. Mr. Chudnovsky spoke to the subject of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability.

Chudnovsky spoke to Task Force Recommendation 3, which aims to “Protect existing non-profit, social and co-operative housing that may be under threat and continue to protect the affordable market rental stock using the community planning process to focus on strategies to repair, renew and expand the stock neighbourhood by neighbourhood.”

David Chudnovsky at City Hall October 2012 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

In view of Vancouver City Council’s own recommendations, Chudnovsky suggested that Council take 3 specific actions.

1. To take a public stand against the eviction. To make a MOTION, expressing your opposition to the eviction, and pass it unanimously, today.

2. To use your influence with BCHousing and the Government of British Columbia, to rescind the eviction notices.

3. To use the rezoning and regulatory powers of the City of Vancouver to encourage the proposed developer to rescind the eviction notices.

Will the MOTION based on his suggestions ever be written and passed?

With the spectre of the October 29th TENANCE HEARING hanging over the tenants heads, it will be interesting to see if this Mayor and Council takes any action. It must be noted that in some circles, this Mayor and Council are perceived to be in the pockets of Vancouver developers. If that is the case, any hint of saying “NEVER AGAIN” to developer aspirations — such as the ones that demolished the community at Little Mountain Housing — may be perceived as “ANTI-DEVELOPER.”

What do you think?

We’re waiting to see what happens next.

David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project.

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“The Eviction of Sammy and Joan” screens for Vancouver’s Mayor and Council

On October 3rd, 2012, Council Chambers of the City of Vancouver became a screening room, when I presented my 5 minute cut of “The Eviction of Sammy and Joan,” during the discussion of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability. You can view my presentation in the video below.  The short film itself can be viewed HERE.

NB: This screening was significant in the decision that was subsequently announced on October 25th, to preserve the last building, and fast track the construction 50 new social housing units at Little Mountain. Please look for news reports on this website.

Sammy and Joan at City Hall October 2012 from David Vaisbord on Vimeo.

John Grierson (the “father of the documentary film”) was known to say, that if he could get the right dozen people into a screening room to see a film he was happy. I presented the film on the suggestion of veteran civic planner Nathan Edelson, who saw it the previous evening at a screening at UBC. In the Q&A that followed he urged me to edit the over seven minute film to under 5 minutes, in order to make it fit within the 5 minute limitation on speakers before City Council. I did that.

When the screening was over, there was dead silence. Councillor Andrea Reimer was the first to speak, and directed Mayor and Council to this website, where the longer version can be streamed. A question from Councillor Elizabeth Ball followed. I was not really prepared to talk, as I was up half the night editing the film. I was happy to leave the words to David Chudnovsky, who followed me on the speakers list.

The speech by DAVID CHUDNOVSKY, (former NDP MLA for Vancouver-Kensington) which followed my screening, was a concise exposition on the Mayor’s Task Force Recommendation Number 3: To “Protect existing non-profit, social and co-operative housing that may be under threat,” and how it directly related to the current crisis at Little Mountain, the eviction of the last tenants, and the demolition of the last building.

In conclusion, Chudnovsky made THREE EXPLICIT REQUESTS of the Mayor and his Councillors on what IMMEDIATE ACTIONS TO TAKE.

Mr. Chunovsky’s 5-minute speech will be viewable on my next posting, tomorrow.

See you then,
David Vaisbord
The Little Mountain Project

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Eviction Delayed for Sammy and Joan: New Hearing Date

Eviction delayed for Sammy and Joan and the last 4 families at Little Mountain!

Sam and Joan 2012 in garden

Sammy (Sim) Chang and Joan Chang in their organic garden, soon to be evicted from their home at the Little Mountain Housing project.


Last week, on Tuesday September 18th, at their HEARING (by teleconference) with the RENTAL TENANCY BRANCH, the tenants with David Chudnovsky acting as their advocate, won the right to have an adjuication IN PERSON.

The date of that NEW hearing was announced YESTERDAY, and has been set for:
October 29, 2012 at 10am
at the RTB office in Metrotown.
Suite 400 – 5021 Kingsway Burnaby, BC.

There is a RALLY AGAINST THE EVICTION planned for that date, infront of the RTB office.

No eviction may take place until a final decision is made by the RTB, so in effect, the tenants won their first battle against BC Housing and the Holborn Group. Lawyers for BC Housing will, without a doubt, seek a definitive eviction date at the next meeting.

Meanwhile, in a recent interview in the Vancouver Sun of September 25, 2012, the Holborn Group’s Joo Kim Tiah, Holborn Group's Joo Kim Tiah at the Jan 2012 Little Mountain Open Housemade some very vague promises that construction could begin in May of 2013. This claim is NOT supported by REALITY.

The tag-team of the Holborn Group and the Ministry of Housing/BC Housing do not have the authority to over-ride the legitimate powers of The City of Vancouver to manage its own rezoning processes. The Vancouver planning department has re-iterated several times, that the process of rezoning at Little Mountain will take at least 18 months, and considering the length of time the site has already remained empty, far longer.

My interpretation is that the accelerated demolition process at Little Mountain has but one purpose:
To close the sale of the Little Mountain lands to The Holborn Group prior to the Provincial Elections of May 2013. BC Liberal Housing Minister Rich Coleman - wants to see Little Mountain cleared for the developer, the Holborn GroupThe BC Liberals are desperate for one piece of good news, and are willing displace vulnerable people (the very people they claim to protect) for short-term political gain.

This is how I predict it will go down:

With the tenants successfully evicted, the sale will go through, and the Liberal Government will announce the success of their strategy. They’ll exhume their promise to build the 14 housing sites, and trumpet their holiness! And then… NO SHOVEL will break ground, NO HOUSING CONSTRUCTION will begin, and the site will remain EMPTY for at least another year.

Amen.

David Vaisbord
Filmmaker
Neighbour – Little Mountain Community

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WATCH: “The Eviction of Sammy and Joan.”

Please note that in September of 2012, the Eviction Order was defeated! This was a major victory for the families who live at Little Mountain, and the community who supported them.

Here is my latest short film about two independent senior citizens shot over the past 3 years, who currently live under an eviction notice at Little Mountain.

THE EVICTION DATE IS SEPTEMBER 28, 2012.

A facebook page: “Stop the Eviction of Little Mountain Tenants” can be found here:http://www.facebook.com/StopTheEvictionOfLittleMountainTenants

The LINK to the PETITION is HERE.

If the Youtube connection is busy, you can view the short film on VIMEO here:

Eviction of Sammy & Joan Sept 2012

There are a number of important issues involved in the eviction of Sammy and Joan. I list a few here:

PHYSICAL JEOPARDY
Sammy and Joan are both completely blind. Sammy fought the first eviction notice in 2009 for good reason, BC Housing did not have a plan to redevelop Little Mountain, and the safety of his wife was of the highest importance. Sammy did visit a number of BC Housing locations prior to deciding to reject with finality the offer to relocate. Every location that Sammy visited displayed environmental hazards – driveways, parking lots, concrete trip zones etc. – which posed a serious threat. I accompanied Sammy on several of those outings, and realized how many small obstacles we negotiate daily, and how we rely on our sight to get around them.

Sammy no longer has eyesight to help Joan negotiate unfamiliar territory. He can not longer assess the danger of any new environment for his wife, or himself. Relocation puts Sammy and Joan’s physical safely in real jeopardy.

DESTRUCTION OF LIVELIHOOD
Sammy is one of Vancouver’s original urban organic gardeners. His garden is his life, and a mainstay of his diet. Sammy is also a chef, and both he and Joan cooks their own food.

Joan has mentioned that BC Housing intends to put them in a facility which garnishes 75% of their income for life support. This means that the facility prepares and cooks all the meals in an institutional setting. Currently Sammy keeps 75% of his income for life support, and buys and prepares food in his way. Sammy and Joan are two independent, blind seniors who live a frugal and healthy life.

Remove Sammy from his garden, and deny this blind couple any control over their diet and lifestyle and you might as well be putting them in prison.

PERSONAL SAFETY
Recent news has brought the safety of many BC Housing operations into question. Seniors have spoken about how dangerous it is to live in BC Housing projects near the downtown east side. One woman mentioned that she had to sleep with “a knife under her pillow.”

BC Housing has been taking to them about Hastings Street (watch the video)! How well will a blind couple fare in such an environment? I’m sure that you can imagine! This eviction will compromise their personal safety.

HEALTH and STRESS
Could BC Housing have picked a more stressful time in Sammy’s life, in which to evict him? The loss of his eyesight in March of 2012 a tragic event. Now, just as he is being offered hope that he might restore part of it, BC Housing burdens him with the stress of eviction. It’s no wonder that he can no longer sleep, and his life, leading up to both his eviction and his eye operation is hell. If BC Housing has anything in their mission statement about ethical and moral values, they are violating all of them at once.

CAN BC HOUSING MITIGATE THE PROBLEM?
YES THEY CAN, by not moving Sam and Joan off the site until it is absolutely necessary, and certainly not in order to perform more “environmental testing” 18 months to two years prior to the commencement of any new construction.

In fact considering the enormity of the Little Mountain property, and the mandate of the developer — to build the replacement social housing in the first phase of development — it is very likely that a building could be built to satisfy that mandate and house Sammy and Joan, WITHOUT them ever needing to be relocated!

If BC Housing choses to pursue this latest round of evictions, they will be proving without a shadow of a doubt that they are not only capable of screwing up on a very large scale (witness the Little Mountain site today), but on the smallest personal level, continuously on the same project. What does that say about this crown corporation?

SAMMY AND JOAN NEED YOUR SUPPORT – NOW.
Find out how, by clicking HERE, and by connecting to this FACEBOOK page.

Best,
David Vaisbord
Filmmaker
Little Mountain Community

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How to support the remaining tenants of Little Mountain

FOUR WAYS TO SUPPORT THE REMAINING TENANTS OF LITTLE MOUNTAIN

1. Sign and circulate the petition.
Find the petition here

2. Watch and share this short film about two of the tenants who are fighting the current eviction:
“The Eviction of Sammy and Joan” by David Vaisbord

3. Make your voice heard by local media:

letters@globeandmail.com
sunletters@png.canwest.com
provletters@png.canwest.com
letters@straight.com
blink@vancourier.com

CBC radio talkback number: 604-662-6690
CKNW radio comment line: 604-331-2784

4. Make you voice heard by officials:

Provincial Government and BC Housing
Premier Christy Clark: premier@gov.bc.ca
Minister Responsible for Housing, Rich Coleman: rich.coleman.mla@leg.bc.ca
Shayne Ramsay, CEO, BC Housing: sramsay@bchousing.org
Dale McMann, ED for Lower Mainland, BC Housing: dmcmann@bchousing.org

Development team
Joo-Kim Tiah, President, Holborn Group: info@holborn.ca
James Cheng & Associates, Architectural Consultants: info@jamescheng.com

City of Vancouver
Mayor Gregor Robertson: gregor.robertson@vancouver.ca
Councillor George Affleck: clraffleck@vancouver.ca
Councillor Elizabeth Ball: clrball@vancouver.ca
Councillor Adrienne Carr: clrcarr@vancouver.ca
Councillor Heather Deal: clrdeal@vancouver.ca
Councillor Kerry Jang: clrjang@vancouver.ca
Councillor Raymond Louie: clrlouie@vancouver.ca
Councillor Geoff Meggs: clrmeggs@vancouver.ca
Councillor Andrea Reimer: clrreimer@vancouver.ca
Councillor Tim Stevenson: clrstevenson@vancouver.ca
Councillor Tony Tang: clrtang@vancouver.ca
CoV’s City Manager Penny Ballem: penny.ballem@vancouver.ca
CoV’s General Manager of Planning and Development: brian.jackson@vancouver.ca
CoV’s City Planning Staff: matt.shillito@vancouver.ca; patricia.st.michel@vancouver.ca; ben.johnson@vancouver.ca; graham.winterbottom@vancouver.ca

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Meeting #28 Consensus Building at Little Mountain – (Heading to CITY COUNCIL)

Meeting #28
Consensus Building at Little Mountain
March 2, 2012

In this community-only meeting — Holborn Group was requested not to attend — the point of the gathering is to move toward building consensus (or near consensus) within the Advisory Group so that the report to council has a clear sense of the community’s positive and negative responses to the developer’s design. Community members revisit their concerns about the current proposal using a CARD WRITING exercise. The exercise is preceeded by a POSTAL CODE analysis of the January 2012 OPEN HOUSE results.

Brief Notes on the meeting:

2:40 — Conversation about the history of the Advisory Group process, moderated by the community Chairperson, Ron Mayers.

6:40 — Ben Johnson (planner) recognizes that the Little Mountain Advisory Group has come a long way in terms of learning and growing over the years of this process, but not necessarily a long way in supporting or endorsing the latest proposal by the Holborn Group. Johnson suggests that the Group’s position should become clearer through the next round of the process.

12:00 — Al Buium of RPSC mentions that a number of Vancouver City Departments, such as Engineering, Traffic, Parks and Recreation, and Schools have not yet made any presentations yet, and Johnson answers that they will appear. Important to note that a representative of Vancouver Engineering does voice an opinion at the URBAN DESIGN Panel Meeting #33.

14:00 — Postal Code analysis. A higher negative response to densities and other aspects of the design was correlated to closer proximity to the site. Discussion follows on the accuracy of the data.

26:00 — The Card Exercise. Three cards were given to each participant, who were asked to write down their three biggest concerns about the project, one on each card. Results of the exercise demonstrate the challenge of balancing all of the concerns. Excellent discussion follows.

1:15:00 — Lisa Schwabe, a senior citizen, presents her concerns about Little Mountain.

1:21:00 — CALM member Catherine Hembling, presents information on new Social Housing Developments based on new financial models in the United States and Europe. The term “Values-Based Banking” is introduced.

FULL Unedited Meeting Below:

Next Up: Meeting #29 The City’s Position on Little Mountain

Heading to City Council:
The finish line has been tentatively set for June 27, 2012. That’s the date when the Little Mountain Advisory Committee, the City of Vancouver planning department, the Holborn Group, and You make your thoughts known to Vancouver City Council about the deliberations of the past 2 and a half years. At the meeting the planning department will present a policy statement on the current plans, for the approval of City Council. If approved, the policy statement will guide the future rezoning process at the Little Mountain site. The rezoning process (up to a year or more in duration) will include public and legal processes.

David Vaisbord
Little Mountain Community Member
Documentary filmmaker

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