Victoria’s answer to homelessness: build a village

Victoria modelled its proposal on a similar project in Eugene, Oregon, called Opportunity Village

Plus, a Vancouver architect’s proposal for a Paris plyscraper and a hiccup in Beijing could trigger an earthquake in B.C.

It takes a village
The City of Victoria has an interesting plan to reduce homelessness—a village of tiny temporary houses—and city council is set to vote on it Thursday. As part of the proposal, the city would secure space in a park or an unused private lot that would house dozens of wooden shed-sized units, Contestoga huts, and communal kitchens and washrooms. One vilage could house around 50 people and on-site support staff. And the proposal, city staff contend, isn’t just benevolent public policy—it’s kind to the city’s budget. Victoria spends around $600,000 on costs associated with homelessness—on policing, enforcing bylaws and cleaning up parks—and a self-sustaining community with some permanence could reduce those costs. It could also alleviate pressure on the city’s shelters, currently operating at 118-per-cent capacity. 

Tall and wooden
Michael Green, a Vancouver architect, may not intend to upstage the Gustave Eiffel, but he invites the comparison. If his 35-storey, wood-frame tower gets the go-ahead in Paris—now one proposal among hundreds—he contends that it would be equally ground-breaking. “Just as [the architect of the Eiffel Tower] shattered our conception of what was possible a century and a half ago, this project can push the envelope of wood innovation with France in the forefront,” said Green, the proponent at Michael Green Architecture, in a release. His firm is known for its creative use of wood—from the wrap-around stage at Vancouver’s TED conventions to a six-storey concept building in Prince George. And the idea of the plyscraper makes for more than architecture porn; it’s a showcase of developments in wood engineering that the province’s foresty sector has invested heavily in—and is now keen to export. Read more on that here. 

Party bosses
Is the future of Vancouver tied to the fate of China’s Communist party? Jonathan Manthorpe, a long-time columnist at the Vancouver Sun and former China correspondent, certainly seems to think so. Worse yet, or so he posits, the massive question mark that obscures the country’s political stability could have incalculable ramifications for Vancouver. He writes:

“The flight of money from China suggests that very many people at the top of the regime have doubts about how much longer the Communist Party can hold power, and they are arranging safety nets for their assets and their families.

“The flood of this money into Canada has not only contorted and distorted the Vancouver housing market beyond redemption, it has changed the sort of community Vancouver is going to be for generations to come. In a bizarre piece of absence of mind and lack of attention, it has also hitched the future of Vancouver to the fate of the Chinese Communist Party.”

You can read the full post over here.