In downtown Vancouver, taxpayers spend a fortune on “slum housing”

- November 17th, 2012

Brian Hutchinson has a piece in today’s National Post that ought to get a little more attention in B.C. for what it says about how the provincial government is managing the public purse while trying to deal with the problem of homelessness [My emphasis]:

A total of 900 hotel rooms [at the Marble Arch Hotel] — most of them around 350-square-feet — will be improved by 2017. That’s a staggering $128,888 per room.

Taxpayers will have spent approximately $32,000,000 just fixing the Marble Arch, once the latest batch of “major” repairs is finished. The tally doesn’t include $3.9-million that has already been spent on building operations and support services since 2007. Nor does it include future “maintenance costs” to be borne by the province.

Worse, the Marble Arch will still be an inefficient, unsightly dump after all the work is done, sometime in 2014. There’s not much to improve on its looks and character, but the latest restoration effort will still have to adhere to Vancouver’s rigid heritage conservation restrictions; these typically forbid upgrades such as new windows. Single-pane glass in old wooden frames will just have to do.

Heritage conservation isn’t cheap, either. Three years ago, another publicly funded, century-old SRO in the Downtown Eastside was restored for $14,365,000, or $608-per-square foot of living space. Brand new homes in affluent neighbourhoods can be built — let alone purchased — for less.

via After throwing $84M at SROs, Vancouver’s spending $128K per room on renovations | Full Comment | National Post.

Categories: BC Politics

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1 comment

  1. ACMESalesRep says:

    Actually, $600/ft^2 is about the going cost of new construction on the west side. The cost of renovating the Marble Arch, which Hutchinson didn’t actually break down (perhaps because $128k/room sounds much larger) is under $400/ft^2, using the numbers quoted in the article. These costs are in no way unreasonable given the state of Vancouver’s housing and construction markets.

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