SRO housing deal deserves praise

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Monday's Noon News led with a positive story of hope and community revitalization

The success the previous NPA city council had in negotiating financial support for thousands social and supportive housing units from BC's Minister of Housing Rich Coleman makes me proud of those who made it happen. While some will judge this as mere partisanship, there's no denying that this was one of the greatest political coups in the city's history.

Over eighty million dollars went straight into putting roofs over the heads of BC's disadvantaged. It's the kind of generosity from a senior level of government that's unlikely to be repeated during this term of council, nor possibly for many years to come thanks to several factors. The catalyst of the Olympic Games will be behind us, and the Province is broke. Sure, and throw in the fact that there's little love lost between Coleman and today's city council.

The GlobalTV report by Grace Ke above led Monday's newscast, and what made it exceptional is that it was a surprisingly upbeat story for BC's government, who are getting whacked on all sides during this economic crisis, especially by the media who thrive on controversy. I guess that's why it led the Noon News and not the dinner hour broadcast.

While Coleman is still in office to talk about the partnership with Vancouver, a lot of credit goes to former Mayor Sam Sullivan and City Councillor Kim Capri (neither were re-elected) for cutting this deal with the Minister. Those close enough to the latter know you never underestimate Kim's shrewd skills as a deal-maker, nor the tenacity of Sullivan.

Now this building with the shabby exterior and renovated interior is in the good hands of the Portland Hotel Society, who we can count on to take care of the property and those who inhabit it. The whole SRO scheme by the NPA and Coleman strikes a very positive chord that makes me think of the building in nearby Chinatown, that houses the offices of condo king Bob Rennie, emblazoned with EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT in neon letters.

Rennie, who commissioned the neon sign from UK artist Martin Creed, told me that the sign expressed his own optimism for Vancouver, especially on the mean streets of the Downtown Eastside where its glare can be seen up close. With more housing on the way - over 3800 units in total thanks to the aforementioned deals - it's hard not to think, for a moment at least, that everything is going to be alright.

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