South Cambie development is Canada’s first real estate development exclusively for and by women

Non-profit Soroptimist International of Vancouver and Purpose Driven Development have come together with funding partners to create affordable rental housing for working women, senior women and women-led families

The first day of December in Vancouver brought with it an especially cold rain—the kind of weather you’d like to spend as little time in as possible. Unless, it seems, if you were part of the crowd at a development site in South Cambie.

There, next to a hole in the ground on 13th Avenue were dozens of smiling faces as non-profit group Soroptimist International of Vancouver and Purpose Driven Development announced a national first—a housing development exclusively designed for and by women.

The project, some five years in the making, at 550 West 13th Ave., broke ground today. When it’s completed, it will offer 13 storeys worth of affordable rental housing options for working women, senior women and women-led families.

It was also designed and brought to development by women, with some help from funding partners like the local, provincial and federal governments, as well as VanCity’s Affordable Housing Accelerator Program & Fund.

“In Vancouver, where the housing crisis is astronomical, the economic inequality that women face is a double-edged sword, as it disproportionately impacts the ability of women to access affordable housing,” said Carla Guerrera, CEO of real estate development and planning firm Purpose Driven Development.

“This project is one of the first of its kind in North America. From the land surveyors to the architects and the engineers and every discipline in between has been a highly qualified woman to demonstrate the leadership of women in our sector.”

Added Noami Brunemeyer, BC Housing’s director of regional development: “When Carla [Guerrera] and Carla [Busnardo, board member at Soroptimist International] came to BC Housing with the image of an all-woman team on development, it exceeded my expectations. More projects should have more women on them.”