Vancouver City Council
CITY OF VANCOUVER
May 25, 2004
CC File No.:
June 8, 2004
Vancouver City Council
Director of the Housing Centre in consultation with the Director of Current Planning and the Director of Legal Services
Single Room Accommodation Permit for 1261 Granville Street (The Granville Residence)
THAT Council approve a Single Room Accommodation Permit to reduce the number of designated SRA rooms in the Granville Residence (1261 Granville Street) from 100 to 82; and to convert the remaining 82 rooms to include washrooms and cooking facilities.
CITY MANAGR'S COMMENTS
The City Manager RECOMMENDS the foregoing.
Owners wanting to convert or demolish designated SRA rooms must first apply for and obtain a Single Room Accommodation permit. Council decides each application and may refuse the permit, approve the permit outright or approve the permit with conditions attached.
In October 1989, Council resolved that the City adopt the objective of "maintaining, upgrading, and increasing the existing stock of core-need housing in the Downtown". In May 1991, when dealing with the rezoning of Downtown South, Council confirmed the policy of 1:1 replacement of SRAs in that area and indicated that the replacement housing would be achieved through purchase of SRA buildings and building new non-market housing. In October 2001, Council confirmed the housing objective to "maintain and expand housing opportunities, . . . with priority being given to families with children, SRA residents, and the mentally ill, physically disabled, and others at risk of homelessness".
PURPOSE AND SUMMARY
This report provides an overview of the Single Room Accommodation Permit application with respect to the Granville Residence (1261 Granville Street) and provides a rationale for staff's recommendation that Council approve a permit to demolish 16 designated SRA rooms (reducing the number of designated rooms from 100 to 82 to install washrooms in the remaining 82 rooms).
On October 21, 2003 Council enacted the Single Room Accommodation By-law to regulate the conversion or demolition of single room accommodation in the downtown core. Owners wanting to convert or demolish designated rooms must apply for and obtain a conversion or demolition permit. Council decides whether or not to approve or reject each application.
The Granville Residence is a 5 storey building on Granville Street in Downtown South with 100 designated SRA rooms. The applicant (the City of Vancouver) is seeking a Single Room Accommodation Permit to demolish 18 designated SRA in order convert the remaining 82 designated rooms by adding washrooms and cooking facilities.
As outlined in the Charter, Council is required to consider a number of factors in deciding whether or not to grant an SRA Permit. These factors include the supply of low-cost accommodation, the quality of the stock, the future availability of the stock and other factors Council considers relevant including, but not limited to, significant public benefits.
The Supply and Future Availability of Low Cost Accommodation
When the Downtown South Plan was created in the 1990s and the area was rezoned, it was anticipated that many of the SRAs would be lost. Council adopted a one-for-one policy in the Downtown South that was to be implemented through a variety of means including the construction of replacement housing, purchase of SRA hotels, etc. The City's Affordable Housing Fund, as well as the reserve fund created for the Single Room Accommodation By-law will both be used to assist with the construction of new replacement housing and to purchase or rehabilitate SRAs.
According to the "Low-Income Survey for the Downtown Core" between 1991 and 2003, there was a net gain of 11 units geared to low-income singles in the Downtown South. If Council approves the SRA Permit, there will be an 18 room reduction in the SRA stock. However, not with standing the one-for-one policy, the `remaining 82 SRA rooms will be significantly improved as each would be renovated to install a washroom and cooking facilities; the building will be managed by the City's non-market housing operations which has extensive experience addressing the needs of low-income tenants, and finally, rents will be affordable to people on welfare. This means a rent reduction from the previous owner's rents of $390.
The Quality of SRA Housing
Like many SRAs, built in the early 20th century, the building requires upgrading. Staff reports indicate that minimum maintenance has been done on the building and the 100 SRA designated rooms. At the time the City purchased the building, roughly 30 rooms were occupied and because of the building's condition, the City's Licenses and Inspections staff had ordered the previous owner not to rent out additional rooms.
If the Single Room Accommodation permit is approved, the renovations will result in much improved housing quality (all rooms would have a bathroom and cooking facilities) with only a reduction of 18 rooms from the current 100 rooms, none of which have bathrooms or cooking facilities. It would also broaden the range of low-income housing in the City's non-market housing portfolio which currently contains sleeping rooms (Old Continental, Gresham) or self-contained new units (New Continental).
When the City took over management there were about 30 tenants in residence. They were informed that the City intends to renovate the building and that two months notice to vacate would be given once permits were in place, in conformance with the Residential Tenancy Act. Relocation staff have met with each tenant to assist with a relocation plan. For those who wish assistance, options have been suggested such as moving back into the Granville once renovations are complete, moving to another City-owned building or to other appropriate housing. Tenants are being given their last month's rent to assist with moving expenses and reconnection fees. About 10 tenants have left the building, leaving about 20 tenants.
The process and timetable for the renovations is as follows: Development and Building Permits are expected by the end of June; tendering and contract award will be completed by the end of August; construction will commence in September; re-occupancy will occur in March 2005.
By purchasing the Granville Residence, completing renovations and improving the liveability of the rooms for low-income tenants, the approval of the Single Accommodation permit will serve to help fulfil Council's housing objectives for Downtown South.
Staff recommend Council approve the Single Room Accommodation permit to reduce the number of designated SRA rooms in the Granville Residence from 100 to 82 rooms in order to install washrooms and cooking facilities in the remaining 82 designated rooms.
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