Infrastructure Canada

Infrastructure Canada
Government of British Columbia

Government of British Columbia
City of Vancouver

City of Vancouver

October 23, 2009 19:30 ET

Governments Announce Support for Vancouver Native Housing Society and Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 23, 2009) - Minister John Baird, Canada's Minister of Transport and Infrastructure; Minister Rich Coleman, British Columbia's Minister of Housing and Social Development; and Deputy Mayor Raymond Louie of the City of Vancouver are pleased to announce funding for the Vancouver Native Housing Society and the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society.

The Vancouver Native Housing Society will receive $3.5 million from the federal Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, and up to $3.5 million to be provided through the BC Provincial Homelessness Initiative (PHI) and other fundraising efforts. This major renovation and refurbishment of the Pender Hotel, at a total cost of approximately $7 million, will produce 23 short-stay single room occupancy units, plus a healing lodge, artist live-work space and main floor retail space for marketing Aboriginal art.

The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society will receive $41,500 from the Government of Canada, $41,500 from the Province of British Columbia, and $6,000 from the City of Vancouver for a roof and wall restoration project. An additional $40,000 will be funded internally, for a total project value of approximately $129,000.

"The Native Housing Society and Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society provide important services to the people of Vancouver," said Minister Baird. "Our Government is pleased to be a partner in these projects that help to provide the necessary safe and secure infrastructure needed by the people that use the facilities."

"Through strong partnerships with other levels of governments, non-profits and the community, we will be able to transform this previously uninhabitable single room occupancy hotel into safe and supportive housing for people most in need," said Minister Coleman.

"Refurbishment of the Pender Hotel will help us maintain our affordable housing stock, and provide safe, secure housing for those who need it most. Partnership efforts like these are what we need to break the cycle of homelessness in Vancouver," Mayor Gregor Robertson said. Mayor Robertson, who is in Greece attending Olympic flame-lighting ceremonies, was represented at the event by Deputy Mayor Raymond Louie.

"The improvements that will be made to our building will enhance the community centre image and promote the cultural delivery of the Friendship Centre programming by prolonging the life of the building and promoting increased opportunities for sport, recreational and cultural activities," said Susan Tatoosh, Executive Director, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society. "This will also open opportunities for the Friendship Centre to host art displays and artistic performance events as well as welcoming tourists and community members interested in learning more about the aboriginal philosophies and traditions."

"At Vancouver Native Housing Society we know only too well that urban Aboriginal people make up a disproportionally large number of the homeless on the streets of Vancouver, particularly in the downtown eastside (2-3% of the population, but over 30% of the homeless). We couldn't be more pleased that both the federal and provincial governments have, in recognizing those numbers, made these significant financial contributions to the Pender Hotel project," said David Eddy, Executive Director, Vancouver Native Housing Society. "We also recognize that the City of Vancouver has always been a great supporter of our Society's mission and vision and look forward to working with them to combine the unique heritage aspects of this building with a strong Aboriginal imprint that reflects the significant value that this population brings to the neighbourhood."

Canada and British Columbia are working together to create jobs and boost the economy, while making significant investments that help communities improve their infrastructure. Both governments have agreed to work together to ensure that these funds are delivered quickly and efficiently to municipalities in British Columbia.

In 2009/10, the Province's budget for social housing is approximately $450 million, more than three times as much as in 2001.


BACKGROUNDER

CREATING JOBS AND IMPROVING CULTURAL INFRASTRUCTURE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

Infrastructure investment stimulates economic growth, creates jobs, supports stronger communities and enhances the overall prosperity of British Columbians.

The Government of Canada is providing a total of $3.5 million under the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund for the development of the Vancouver Healing Lodge and Aboriginal Artist Shelter in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Government of British Columbia will provide the remaining $3.5 million. The total estimated cost of the project is $7 million.

The current building will be renovated and refurnished to include 23 short-stay single room occupancy units for homeless Aboriginals at risk. The building will also include a culturally appropriate healing space with two separate projects - the Vancouver Healing Lodge and an Aboriginal Artists shelter. The Vancouver Healing Lodge will be developed as a culturally-appropriate medical stay facility for Aboriginal people, while the artists' shelters will house Aboriginal artists who are struggling with behavioural and substance-abuse issues.

The Pender Hotel is a B-listed Heritage building and as such the front facade will be rehabilitated to restore existing architectural features and reinstate the original storefront configuration. Major construction elements that require renovation include:

- full building envelope remediation;

- internal fabric;

- structural rot remediation and fire and safety systems;

- seismic and structural upgrades; and

- the addition of at least two floors.

Construction is expected to begin in the next six months.

Through Canada's Economic Action Plan, the federal government has established a new $4-billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund that provides funding to provincial, territorial and municipal construction-ready infrastructure rehabilitation projects. Funding will be available for two years for projects that will begin during the 2009 and 2010 construction seasons. This initiative is structured to flow funding and get shovels in the ground quickly.

Contact Information

  • Office of Canada's Transport
    and Infrastructure Minister
    Chris Day, Press Secretary
    613-991-0700
    or
    BC Housing
    Patricia Lusic
    Manager Event Communications
    604-456-8895
    or
    City of Vancouver
    Mayor's Office
    Wendy Stewart
    604-873-7394
    or
    Infrastructure Canada
    613-948-1148
    or
    Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society
    Susan Tatoosh
    Executive Director
    604-251-4844 ext. 303
    or
    Vancouver Native Housing Society
    David Eddy
    Executive Director
    604-320-3312 ext. 24