Our community’s project.
Your questions.

Please note that the Kettle Boffo project proposal is not moving forward. These FAQs provide background on our proposal for information purposes only. For more information on our decision not to proceed with this project, please read our Message to Supporters.

What is The Kettle Boffo Project?

The northwest corner of Venables and Commercial is where The Kettle Society currently makes its home. For almost 40 years, The Kettle has offered a range of programs to people with low-incomes, people who are homeless, and individuals with mental health concerns. The Kettle finds our clients places to live, offers connections to drug and alcohol counselling, serves hot meals, and stands as one of few places where people in crisis can go for help.

The Kettle Boffo Project is a proposal to re-build our cramped, aging facility in a new building in the same location. This proposed building would almost double The Kettle Society’s current space (which is greatly needed because our existing space is too small and in need of costly repairs). The proposed building would also create up to 30 supportive housing units (where people who need assistance from The Kettle could live), a few retail shops at the ground level, plus approximately 200 apartment units so that new or existing people could buy a home in the Grandview-Woodland community.

Where is the proposed site for this project and what’s already there?

The Kettle Boffo Project is proposed in The Kettle’s current location — at the northwest corner of Venables and Commercial Drive, right on the Adanac bike route. The Ace of Suedes dry cleaner and an overflow space for Britannia Community Services Centre (a facility that is largely subsidized by Boffo Properties) currently operate there on short-term leases.

What makes this site so appropriate for this proposed project?

First, this location is where The Kettle already operates its existing programs, which makes it a natural choice to rebuild our new facility.

Second, the corner of Commercial Drive and Venables is an interesting spot. There is commercial to the south, industrial uses to the west and east, and retail and residential to the north. For this reason, it feels right to create something here that offers a mix of uses — just like the areas that surround it. To that end, this project proposes retail, community services, affordable housing and market housing all on this one site.

Third, this corner of the neighbourhood doesn’t necessarily reflect the same vibrant, eclectic, village-feeling standards of Commercial Drive as you travel south. To many people, this corner of the neighbourhood feels transitional and in need of something new that reflects the values and style of this community. (To feel inspired, view the portfolio of one of the architectural firms on our proposal team — Olson Kundig Architects).

Lastly, the geography of the site lends itself well to create a more prominent building that could update this corner while also providing much-needed space for The Kettle Society to counsel, house and serve people in the neighbourhood. The site naturally slopes to the northwest, which means the sight lines of people east of the proposed building would be less visually affected by a 12-storey building than if the site and the neighbouring blocks were completely flat.

Boffo Properties and The Kettle Society are partnering in this proposal — can you explain how that works? And how does this relate to the City-owned land?

Yes. The land where this project is being proposed has three owners. The first is The Kettle Society who has offered housing and mental-health services in the area for almost 40 years. Our office is located at 1725 Venables. On both sides of The Kettle are sites owned by Boffo Properties, a small, family-run builder whose offices are also located nearby on Venables. The third land owner is the City of Vancouver who owns a parking lot located just north of the Boffo/Kettle sites.

Since 2011, Boffo Properties and The Kettle have jointly offered more than a dozen opportunities to view and comment on the project. We feel passionately that a more useful, attractive project could be created by working together than if we worked alone.

What does The Kettle Society do? And why is it important for them to stay in the neighbourhood?

We’re a non-profit organization that has been operating in East Vancouver since 1976. We offer low-income people, seniors, people who are homeless, and people struggling with mental health or addiction issues a safe place to go for housing, medical help, advocacy, counselling referrals, hot meals, support services, job training and friendship 365 days a year.

The Kettle has made its home in East Vancouver since we opened our doors almost 40 years ago. Since 1999, we’ve been operating out of a small space on Venables Street near Commercial Drive — and the time has come for us to increase and improve our space so we can keep providing this community the help it so desperately needs. We love the Grandview-Woodland area because it’s the same place our clients come from. It’s also our home. That’s why we’re partnering with Boffo Properties and working with the City of Vancouver to create a new facility so we can serve the community for decades to come.

To read more about The Kettle and our work, visit our website.

Will any residents be displaced or evicted if this project goes ahead?

No. There are no residences on the proposed site that would require displacing or relocating anybody.

There’s a lot of talk about the height of this building. How tall will it be?

The proposed building will be 5 storeys at its lowest and 12 storeys at its highest, based on our current discussions with the community and the City of Vancouver. On top of the 12th story, there will likely be a mechanical services room. Look to the drawing(s) below to see the exterior detail and orientation of the building. The building at its highest will be comparable in height to the Adanac Towers to the northeast.

Are there other 12-storey buildings in the neighbourhood?

Yes. Adanac Towers is located just north east of our proposed site. It is 13 storeys tall as counted from the Commercial Diversion North at the north side of the building. This building also has a 15 to 20-foot high mechanical room on top of its 13th storey. Below is a quick snapshot of other mid- to high-rise buildings in the neighbourhood.

Address Building Name Year Built Stories
1717 Adanac Street Adanac Towers 1979 13
1833 Frances Street Panorama Gardens 1990 12
1455 E. 3rd Street Grandview Tower I 1972 13
1425 E. 3rd Street Grandview Tower II 1972 13
I heard somewhere that this project could be 20 storeys — is that true?

No. The Kettle Boffo Project proposes, at its highest, a 12-storey mid-rise project based on the discussions with the community and the City of Vancouver to date.

Put another way, the proposed project would be roughly the same height as Adanac Towers, the building to the northeast of our site, on Commercial and Adanac.

Recently, some sketches and models have been circulated claiming to show what the proposed building would look like on the site. These drawings are inaccurate and not to scale. Please see the sketches below to gain a better understanding of how the proposed building would actually look in the community.

If Kettle Boffo Project goes ahead, does that mean there will soon be towers up and down Commercial Drive?

While we can’t be sure exactly what the future holds, the answer is likely no. The Citizen’s Assembly report, as well as the Grandview Woodland Draft Plan, have identified specific locations throughout Grandview-Woodland where there could be an increase in density. But these plans do not call for increased density along Commercial Drive.

For us, this site deserves special consideration because:

  • It’s already the home of The Kettle Society whose space is currently too small and poorly configured to deliver the meaningful community services we provide;
  • It is north of the main residential / retail area of Commercial Drive where a 13-storey building already exists; and
  • The Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood is a compassionate neighbourhood where The Kettle Society has made its home for 40 years. We think this caring neighbourhood would like to see us stay here for decades to come.
How many market homes are being proposed here?

Approximately 200 market homes are proposed for the building. Why can’t we give an exact number? As part of our rezoning application, the City’s planning process requires us to design the building’s basic exterior elements first — and then have those approved — before we begin crafting the building’s interior. We will report back on the exact number of units as soon as we’re able.

Up to 30 homes of “supportive housing” are including in this proposal — what is “supportive housing”?

Supportive housing refers to an affordable place to live, even for people on income assistance, that offers supervision and help from counsellors, advocates, medical professionals and others. For these units, The Kettle would provide the support.

People in supportive housing often cite it as one of the main reasons their lives turned around. Having an affordable place to live — combined with a caring team of professionals to help manage day-to-day challenges and focus them on staying well — can mean the difference between being a thriving, contributing member of society or being homeless, chronically ill, drug or alcohol dependant or dead.

Have a look at the graphic below from the City of Vancouver’s Housing and Homeless Strategy. In it, they’ve identified a plan to reduce homelessness by 2021 by hitting certain targets of various types of housing. The third box from the left shows their goal of creating 2,150 new supportive housing units. To help The City reach that number, the Kettle Boffo Project would add 30 housing units of this type as well as approximately 200 units of market housing represented on the far right side of the graph, in orange.

How would the supported — or “non-market” — homes be secured? Would they ever become “market homes” after a few years?

The non-market homes would be secured under a Housing Agreement and would stay as social housing / supportive housing for the life of the building. This is the same format that was used at Boffo Properties’ recent Cordovan project where the non-market homes are guaranteed to remain non-market homes.

How has the proposed building been designed to fit in with the neighbourhood?

We see this proposed building as a great addition to an already great neighbourhood. The team will ensure that everything you love about this neighbourhood is integrated into it. Here are some of the ways we see that happening:

  • The project will foster an active, pedestrian- and bike-friendly environment by adding things like courtyards for gathering, a few shops, and perhaps a restaurant or cafe
  • The architecture will be the same extremely high quality work delivered both locally and around the world by the professional firms in charge: Olson Kundig Architects and gBL Architects.
  • The design of the building will be broken up into multiple “pieces” so it appears more like a few integrated components rather than one monolithic building
  • The goal is to keep The Kettle’s services on the ground floor to ensure our clients and community members know where to find us
  • People have expressed a need for affordable and accessible housing options in the area. That’s why market housing will be located on the floors above The Kettle. These homes will give people a variety of housing types so they can stay in the neighbourhood at a price that’s more affordable than purchasing a single-family home. In addition, these homes will allow people who are down-sizing from a single family home or moving from a four-storey walkup to age in place without having to leave their neighbourhood
Are you actively seeking ways to create a strong sense of community for people who will live in this building?

Yes. The Kettle Boffo team envisions bringing life, animation and a tremendous sense of community to the new building. On the ground plane, the new shops and possibly a cafe will give the neighbourhood new places to meet up. In addition, we’re looking to incorporate leafy courtyards where people can gather and sit; rooftop gardens for growing vegetables and socializing; and high quality design so the neighbourhood is truly proud of what’s created here.

What is the plan for the retail spaces?

The retail spaces in the proposed building are envisioned to be in scale with the neighbourhood and the project. From a design perspective and a community building standpoint, we’re hoping to bring unique and interesting shops and businesses to this corner of the neighbourhood.

What about traffic and parking? Are those factors being considered?

Yes. As we work through the design stages of this proposal, traffic planning and parking are always being considered. Going forward, we will work with respected traffic consultants so that our proposed project will fit in and work well within the existing neighbourhood. As well, we’ll also explore bike and car share options as part of this project.

If some mature trees around the site are lost, how will those be replaced?

New landscaping on the property will be incorporated into the ground level of the building. In addition, opportunities for rooftop gardens and landscaped patios will be incorporated into the building’s design.

Why is it so important that The Kettle Society get a new space?

We’ve been working at capacity since opening our doors in 1999. The Kettle has reached a critical point and we need a larger facility that’s better designed for the exact uses we need. Co-developing the site with Boffo Properties — a neighbour in the area — means The Kettle could expand its space, help more people and continue contributing to the well-being of the community.

We envision an expanded Kettle could include:

  • More space for daily meals so more people can sit down to a hot meal when they need one (and no one has to be turned away)
  • More units to house people who would otherwise live on our city’s streets. More than 10,000 people are on BC Housing wait lists and that number grows every year
  • Improved kitchen facilities to continue preparing meals for hundreds of vulnerable people, 365 days a year
  • Additional storage so that The Kettle can accept more and larger donations which we can then distribute to people in need
  • More recreational rooms at the drop-in centre so we can host AA meetings, bingo nights, art sessions, etc. even while other activities are taking place at the same time
  • Expand our Self Esteem and Employment Development (SEED) program to train and find work for more at-risk people in the community
  • Increased office space for staff so they have enough room to meet with clients, learn more about their unique circumstances and offer them help
  • Have enough space to run specialized programs for the people who come to The Kettle, including victims of domestic abuse, seniors, people with mental health concerns, people who are homeless or have addiction issues, among others
  • Create an art gallery where Kettle clients can display and sell their art. This would provide valuable income for our clients, and could serve as a gathering place for the community while helping to break down the stigma around mental health
  • Build much-needed supportive housing units for people who need them. These would include up to 30 homes within the building with supervision that are also close to the mental health, advocacy and outreach programs our clients need
Shouldn’t government be stepping up to offer more affordable housing, supportive housing, homeless assistance and mental health support?

Yes, they should. But the reality is that all branches of government are trying to do more with less. Meanwhile, the need for social services and community support grows every year.

We encourage you to reach out to your MLA, the Premier’s office and members of City Council to be heard on this issue. But we also ask you to recognize that, sometimes, public/private partnerships like the one The Kettle/Boffo wants to enter into with The City of Vancouver can be extremely effective at meeting some of our community’s needs without the need for taxpayers’ dollars.

Many local projects have already created successful, attractive market housing alongside supportive housing. Cordovan (by Boffo Properties) at 557 East Cordova, the Woodwards community in Gastown, 60 West Cordova — these are all thriving residential areas made up of people with different incomes, different lifestyles, and different points of view. The new community at Venables and Commercial could be just like these.

Can money from Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) associated with rezoning be used to lower the proposed building height?

The CAC associated with this project will be used to fund the Kettle’s Drop-In Centre and create up to 30 units of supportive housing.

For those who need a little background, Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) are cash or “in-kind” contributions given by developers to the municipality as part of the rezoning process. Rezonings typically result in an increase in density in a particular area, which means there are more residents and employees living and working in that community. The CAC is intended to lessen the impact on the community by contributing to their specific needs on a case-by-case basis. Examples of CACs include: park space, libraries, childcare facilities, cultural facilities, social services support and affordable housing.

The CAC associated with the Kettle Boffo proposal would be used to create a new, larger Drop-In Centre for Kettle members, as well as up to 30 supportive housing units. These new facilities, which will be operated and run entirely by The Kettle, were identified in the in the Citizens’ Assembly Report as community priorities. The Drop-In Centre and the supportive housing units will be financed through the sale of the building’s market housing. The goal of the Kettle/Boffo proposal is to be self-sustaining.

Is there a difference between Boffo Properties and Boffo Developments?

Yes. They are two different companies independently owned and operated. This proposal includes a partnership with Boffo Properties, a local builder with offices on Venables Street, who’s been building in East Vancouver and around Metro Vancouver since the 1960s.

Some people have seen the luxury homes recently advertised by Boffo Developments (the other company, the one not associated with this proposal) and asked if the market homes in The Kettle Boffo Project would be “luxury” or “upscale” too. The answer is no. These will be comfortable, attractive, stylish homes that reflect the values and needs of the community.

How can I volunteer or support The Kettle Society?

Great question — we would love more volunteers and support! To volunteer your time or services, or to discuss donations of cash, clothing or other items, email mjerome@thekettle.ca.

Please also consider adding a comment in support of The Kettle Boffo Project on this website by clicking here.

Vancouver is in the midst of a housing and mental health crisis. The Kettle Society and Boffo Properties support a housing policy that nurtures a more compassionate, diverse, and inclusive community where neighbours care for and about each other. Join us in our ongoing advocacy.

If you have comments and questions about the City of Vancouver’s housing plans, and the requirements for a project like the Kettle Boffo proposal, we encourage you to contact Vancouver’s Mayor and Council.