Question Period: George Heyman asks Minister Coleman about Little Mountain Housing

G. Heyman: For 50 years the Little Mountain site provided 234 units of affordable social housing in a tightly knit community. Eight years ago this government sold the property, forced tenants to move out and promised new units would be completed in 2010. The new owner, Holborn Properties, began demolition without redevelopment approval at a time when housing costs were skyrocketing.

The minister recently trumpeted the opening of 53 seniors units on the site, almost 200 units short of the promised number and five years after the promised completion date. Some plan.

Will the minister ever deliver on the promise of 234 new social housing units at Little Mountain, plus ten units for Musqueam band members?

Hon. R. Coleman: Six years ago there were 6,000 more people homeless in British Columbia than there are today. Today there are people that may be on our streets that are curled up in a doorway somewhere, where a loved one is wondering where the services and help for them for housing and mental illness are coming from.

Back six or seven years ago, this government gave this ministry the money that would come out of Little Mountain, whenever it came, in advance, so we could go out and address this issue.

Out of Little Mountain today there are over 2,000 units of housing across the province of British Columbia for people with mental health issues, addicted and at risk of homelessness in British Columbia. In addition to that, the programs that are putting food and 24-hour services into shelters across B.C. also came out of the build to leverage that property.

I think when you leverage the change in thousands of lives on one piece of property, and as you’re taking some development time with the city that takes a little longer than necessary, to take that money and invest it in changing people’s lives who are on the streets of British Columbia was the right decision to do then, and it certainly is today.

Madame Speaker: Vancouver-Fairview on a supplemental.

G. Heyman: A little delay? Only that side of the House could be five years late, deliver just 20 percent of their promise and then brag about it. Eight years of vacant property, five years late, less than a quarter of promised new units built. Off schedule, off track and off target.

The community fought for staged development to minimize displacement of residents and keep the community intact. Yet this government neither sought nor provided that sensible safety net in its rush to off-load property and responsibility.

Will the minister tell Vancouver residents desperate for affordable housing exactly when the remaining units will finally be built?

Hon. R. Coleman: In the city of Vancouver there are 14 sites that are presently either completed or under construction, with regards to homelessness, mental health and addictions. That actually started from the vision of the member for Vancouver–False Creek when he was the mayor of the city of Vancouver and put up the first 12 sites. In addition to that, because we were able to leverage, we were able to go into the marketplace and save thousands and thousands of units across British Columbia, where we purchased properties and revamped them in order to take care of people on our streets.

In addition to that, we picked up 28-plus properties in the city of Vancouver for homelessness. The reason we were able to do that is this ministry was allowed to leverage the money given to us by Treasury Board to match up to Little Mountain. So the Little Mountain legacy project today is probably in the thousands of people and the thousands of units that have been helped by British Columbians.

At the end of the day, everybody that was on Little Mountain was housed. Everyone has been supported in the marketplace since. They have the right to come back when the project is complete if they wish to. But at the same time, we use that….

I know you don’t like the fact that thousands of people that were homeless on the streets of British Columbia are housed today. I know you don’t like the success. The success is this: 6,000 fewer people homeless in British Columbia today on the basis of using an asset of British Columbians in order to save people’s lives and turn their lives around.