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Candidates Meet & Greet Saturday at Raycam and Stamps Place is for sale!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

City Council Candidates Meet & Greet

Saturday, Oct 25, 11:30 to 1:30, in the gym of the Ray-Cam Community Centre from 11:30-1:30. Strathcona residents will have an opportunity to talk to candidates from the various civic parties. Rather than this being a speech-fest, each party will have a table at which residents can talk directly with candidates. At the end of the session, there will be an update on the Stamps Place situation.

Stamps Place public housing to be sold

BC Housing informed residents of Stamps Place on October 3 that it is looking for a non-profit housing agency to buy the land and buildings of this large public housing complex. Wording of the sale documents hint that demolition of the complex is a possibility.

The SRA Executive Council and the RayCam Community Centre are concerned about the lack of transparency and consultation in this process, which will transfer a large tract of public land to the private sector and cause uncertainty and stress among current residents.

The SRA Executive Council is sending a letter of concern to the Executive Director of BC Housing, Shane Ramsay, and to the provincial Minister responsible for Housing, Rich Coleman, regarding this hurried transfer of public land to the private sector without public consultation.

Council is also signing on to a similar letter from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods.

Council will continue to monitor this situation and may bring a motion regarding it to the November SRA meeting, although this will be too late to affect the first stage of the process.

BC Housing's request for expressions of interest (REOI) by potential buyers closes November 3. The REOI says that no community consultations will be held until after a buyer is chosen.

The REOI says, "The transfer of this property and others will allow non-profit housing providers the opportunity to LEVERAGE THESE ASSETS to ensure the long-term viability and capital renewal of their current rental stock." [Emphasis added.]

This statement hints strongly that a new owner will build market housing on the site. It is uncertain that this can be done without demolishing the current buildings and displacing residents, as happened at Little Mountain public housing complex. The community there was broken up and dispersed.

Further fears and uncertainty articulated by Stamps Place residents and the board of RayCam Community Centre, which serves the Stamps Place community, include whether a new housing provider will maintain the current level of rent subsidy for residents, whether the criteria for accepting new residents will change, and whether a new owner will continue to cover a portion of RayCam's maintenance costs.

Most Strathcona residents know Stamps Place as a complex of low-rise buildings and one high-rise which stretches east-west from Raymur to Campbell avenues and north-south from Hastings to Union streets. It contains 375 housing units, most of which are large enough for families, and is home to about 1500 people.

SRA Letter to BC Housing re: sale of Stamps Place

Dear Hon. Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing, Premier Christy Clark, Shayne Ramsay, CEO BC Housing and Vancouver Mayor and Council

The Strathcona Residents Association (SRA) is deeply concerned that BC Housing plans to sell Stamps Place and intends to find a buyer before consulting with Stamps Place residents and with the wider Strathcona community.

Many of our concerns relate to the uncertainty and stress the sale will cause to residents as their security of residence is threatened, as well as to the lack of appropriate community consultation.

The statement in the recent REOI that a buyer will be able to "leverage these assets” hints strongly that the new owner will want to build market housing on the property. It seems unlikely that this can be done without demolishing the existing housing.

As we saw with the sale and destruction of the Little Mountain public housing complex, an entire community was broken up and dispersed. Seven years later, the site is still mostly empty.

We don’t want our neighbours, the 1500 or more people who live at Stamp’s Place, to suffer the fear and dislocation that the people of Little Mountain experienced. We’d like them to remain our neighbours, secure in their housing.

We note also that the REOI does not contain any assurances that a new owner (whether or not their long-term goal is redevelopment of the site) will maintain the current level of rent subsidy for residents. This adds further uncertainty and stress, as do questions about whether the criteria for accepting new residents will change or whether the new owner will continue to cover a portion of the maintenance costs for RayCam Community Centre, the complex’s most valuable community resource.

The SRA also questions the haste with which publicly owned land is being offered to the private sector, and we question the likelihood that any non-profit housing agency will be able to afford such a large and expensive piece of property. It seems likely the land will end up in the hands of a developer rather than a non-profit housing provider, increasing the probability that current residents will be thrown out of their homes.

The SRA is expressing its concern independently in this letter, and is also signing on to a letter you are receiving from the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, of which the SRA is a member.

The Strathcona Residents Association urges BC Housing to reconsider its plan to sell off Stamps Place or, at least, to consult with the community before a buyer is found, and offer to some assurances of long-term stability to the people who live there.

Sincerely,

Strathcona Residents Association