Inclusivity is a concept we embody at rareEarth. From the clients we align with to the communities we help sell, our team is committed to creating spaces that have a sense of connection, that reflect belonging and empowerment. And it’s this topic, the power of inclusivity, of being an outsider and craving ties to a neighbourhood and the people within it, that has been passed around our table a significant amount over the summer.
And now, with the approval of the new Grandview-Woodland community plan, it’s a dialogue that is having ripple effects around the city. And we love it.
This summer, after lengthy debate, the new community plan at Commercial Drive was given the green light. The controversial development promises “thousands of units of social and market housing” and “affordable ownership options with the next 30 years”.
It’s a proposed community plan that is four years in the making and has been met with plenty of resistance, from cries of jeopardizing character and heritage to complaints of proposed buildings being too tall and not fit for the uniqueness of the Drive.
Yet, the reality remains that this much-needed proposal will protect the heart and soul of the neighbourhood while responding to the challenges facing this community while also building upon its potential, with the goal being to evolve as a mixed-income, socially-sensitive place that is transit-oriented and rich in heritage and culture.
At rareEarth, we welcome new developments that promise growth and inclusivity. If approved, the development promises to welcome 10,000 more residents to the neighbourhood over the next three decades; a 30% increase of population. That’s an opportunity for new families, young professionals, or down-sizers of all income levels to remain in the city and neighbourhood they love instead of being driven out. Not to mention, this is huge for Commercial Drive, which has seen a steady decline in population, specifically in youth and young working professionals, over the years.
The proposed project will involve 4 properties, one owned by The Kettle Friendship Society, a non-profit that provides housing and support to people with mental illness, two flanked by Boffo Properties, and the fourth by the City.
Of particular significance to us at rareEarth, however, is not just the promise of density, transit, population, and retail space. Rather, it is the tacit approval of the “Kettle Boffo project” at the corner of Commercial Drive and Venables Street. If approved, this project will include 30 units of supportive housing and 200 units of market housing with the intent of building a compassionate and safe haven for those in our society for are vulnerable.
Not only will the proposed Kettle Boffo segment of the Grandview-Woodlands development offer a range of housing options, but, once completed, it will be the new home to The Kettle Friendship Society. For almost 40 years, this non-profit group has offered housing, employment, advocacy, and mental health services to people normally overlooked in our community. This proposed development addresses the powerful notion that inclusivity embodies: that when our society’s most vulnerable are offered an opportunity be a part of our community, they thrive.
This is the kind of conversation we love seeing in our news feed: progressive projects that spark a forward-thinking dialogue in our city, articulating a need for developments that speak to our diverse society and promote inclusivity. Because the bottom line is that without social inclusion, people are more likely to experience poor health, poor mental health, loneliness, and isolation. An inclusive community engages all its citizens. It values diversity and sets a tone for our future generations to come. And when a group of people has the power to set community standards, to be a part of the growth of both their living space and the people they share it with, transformation and vibrancy follows.