Vancouver’s micro-lofts are now being hailed the smallest, self-contained rental units in Canada, according to CBC news. A Vancouver developer recently unveiled 30 new “micro-lofts” – spaces that are all fewer than 300 square feet in size.
The apartments are located at 18 West Hastings Street, right across from Save-On Meats in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in a newly renovated building. They went on display on Monday. Ranging in size from 226 to 291 square feet, the units’ rent averages $850 a month, and each suite includes cable and internet.
In order to maximize the space, each suite has been carefully designed with square footage in mind. The developers used built-in pull-down beds, small appliances and tables that fold away.
Lia Cosco, one of the building’s new tenants, says “I was looking for an affordable living space – and the suite was perfect. The unique allocation of space and the design concepts make the small space very inviting and comfortable to live in.”
While the suites may be comfortable to some, they come at the expense of the comfort of others, suggest protestors. The suites have been dubbed an “affordable and much needed non-subsidized rental housing opportunity in downtown Vancouver” by the city, developers Reliance Properties and ITC Construction Group. But a number of protesters don’t see it that way. As the new building was being unveiled on Monday, they charged it in protest.
Ivan Drury, one of the demonstrators, said, “I don’t understand how this is part of an affordable housing strategy. This is not an affordable housing strategy. This is a homelessness strategy.”
Drury and his fellow protestors are upset because the new building was previously used as a single occupancy (SRO) hotel. Single occupancy hotels provide short-term (and long-term) accommodation for those who need affordable housing in the Vancouver area. In Vancouver, Victoria, and New Westminster there are approximately 1,500 rooms.
Protestors are unhappy with the city since they’ve allowed these buildings to be converted into more expensive forms of housing. It is their belief that developers are taking valuable space from those who need it most. But a visit to the BC Housing website shows that the development is in line with the city’s affordable housing strategy.
“The City of Vancouver has identified preserving the existing SRO stock as an important priority in addressing homelessness,” says the BC Housing website. “The Province is acting with the city to help preserve these units while we plan and build new affordable housing units.”
The development’s protestors are calling on the city to stop converting SROs into expensive housing, especially since rent in the new building is significantly higher than it was before.
Councilor Kerry Jang says that the project still fits Vancouver’s affordable housing strategy. It is his belief that mixed neighbourhoods work best, since the people who come in bring money with them and help keep the local businesses open.