New West residents who support a proposed affordable housing project are invited to attend a bike rally and sign-waving event this weekend.
Yes in New West is hosting the event on Saturday, May 22 to give people a chance to show their support for the Aboriginal Land Trust’s plan to build a six-storey affordable housing building at 823 to 841 Sixth St. The 96-unit building will provide rental housing for members of the Indigenous and Swahili communities.
“Decorate your bike with signs of support and your community spirit,” said a notice about this weekend’s event.
People wanting to attend the bike rally can meet in front of New Westminster Secondary School at 1 p.m. Alternatively, they can bring signs and join supporters for a sign-waving rally at 2 p.m. at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Sixth Street, where they’ll be joined by those who took part in the bike rally.
“The Aboriginal Land Trust Sixth Street housing project is a great idea in a great location: it is close to schools; it is close to parks and playgrounds; it is a pedestrian-friendly area; it is well served by public transit; it is on a major street, which is higher density to the north and south; and it is close to many amenities,” said a notice on the Yes In New West website. “We should all say ‘yes’ to this development.”
In addition to helping address the need for affordable housing, Yes in New West coalition members believe the project is a concrete step toward realizing the important goal of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. In addition to the rally, the Yes in New West coalition has been encouraging people to write to city council in support of the program.
Formed in 2016, Yes in New West is a coalition of New West residents who have been calling on city hall to expand housing options in neighbourhoods across the city. The group formed while city staff was working on the first draft of a land-use map for the new official community plan, which was adopted by city council in the fall of 2017.
In order to proceed, the project requires an amendment to the official community plan to change the land-use designation from residential-infill townhouse to residential-multiple unit buildings. The sites also need to be rezoned from single-detached residential districts to comprehensive development district (823 to 841 Sixth St.), which would be a new zoning district that’s unique to this site.
A public hearing is taking place on Monday, May 31 at 6 p.m.
Plenty of opposition
While the Yes in New West coalition wants council to support the project, more than 1,300 residents have signed a petition opposing the development. They’re opposed to the construction of a six-storey apartment in an area surrounded by single-family homes.
The petition states that the proposed project does not conform to single-family detached zoning or the land-use designation in the official community plan.
“Join us in urging council to keep their promise and honour the official community plan for urban growth now and in the future in every neighbourhood in the city,” said opponents in an ad in the May 20 issue of the Record. “It’s possible to deliver affordable housing we can all support without making controversial and precedent-setting changes to the OCP.”