New building brings library branch and affordable housing to East Hastings

by pmnationtalk on April 21, 2017148 Views

April 19, 2017

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver Public Library, the City of Vancouver, and YWCA Metro Vancouver today officially opened a new library branch and affordable housing community on East Hastings.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, VPL board chair Kyla Epstein, and YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO Janet Austin today welcomed the community to the nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona branch library and YWCA Cause We Care House following a Coast Salish ceremony.

VPL’s nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona branch officially opens to the public at 1 p.m. today.

The project – at 720 and 730 East Hastings St. – is a joint initiative that features a branch library, community and family programming, and safe, affordable housing for low-income single mothers and their children.

Total budget for the project is $28.5 million; it’s built to LEED gold standard.

The City of Vancouver made the largest contribution to the project with a total of $18.3 million going towards a new Vancouver Public Library branch. The City’s financial support includes land value of the site and design and construction of the new library.

YWCA Metro Vancouver made a substantial commitment of more than $10.2 million to support YWCA Cause We Care House through a capital campaign, including $700,000 in an operating fund endowment. Major donors include:

  • Cause We Care Foundation: $1.5 million
  • Streetohome Foundation: $1 million
  • Ismaili Muslim community of B.C.: $385,000
  • The Rina Maria Bidin Fund: $700,000 endowment

VPL’s new branch is roughly 11,000 square feet – one of the largest branches in the city’s library system – and features diverse public spaces and services, including a digital creation space and Internet access; flexible meeting, programming, and community gathering spaces; and a diverse collection of books, DVDs, magazines and newspapers in English and other languages.

YWCA Cause We Care House includes 21 units in a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments and roughly 4,500 square feet of community and family program space; it’s named YWCA Cause We Care House in honour of the lead donor, Cause We Care Foundation.

For more details about the project, see Frequently Asked Questions.


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson:

“It’s rewarding to see this innovative City-led partnership with the YWCA and Vancouver Public Library come together, supporting women and their families with affordable housing and a new, full-service library branch to serve Strathcona, Chinatown, and the Downtown Eastside.

“We’re leaving no stone unturned looking for opportunities to use City-owned land to build new housing in partnership with senior governments and partners to deepen affordability. I’m especially proud of partnerships like these that deliver urgently needed new housing while fostering stronger neighbourhoods and providing essential community services for families.”

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VPL board chair Kyla Epstein:

“This is a milestone – the realization of a longtime dream to have a full-service library branch for the Downtown Eastside, Strathcona, and Chinatown neighbourhoods. Residents told us how they have been looking forward to more access to books, community gathering spaces, learning opportunities and digital creation space. This amazing new branch – named to encompass the idea of ‘we are one’ in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (Musqueam) language – is a place accessible to everyone in the community to gather, learn, connect, and be inspired.”

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YWCA Metro Vancouver CEO Janet Austin:

“YWCA is delighted to build upon our historic service for single mothers and their children in this community. YWCA Cause We Care House will provide safe, affordable housing, along with access to a range of YWCA services, to support single mothers on their journey to personal and economic independence. We are grateful to the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Public Library for this innovative partnership, and to our generous donors for making this housing community possible.”

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Cause We Care Foundation founder and chair Andrea Thomas Hill:

“We are very proud to have played an integral role in making this critical housing project possible, and to witness YWCA Cause We Care House welcome its first single mother-led families. Our commitment now is to ensure the long-term success of the facility through supporting programs and services that pave the way towards a brighter, independent future for residents.”

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Streetohome Foundation president and CEO Rob Turnbull:

“Streetohome Foundation is proud to support YWCA Cause We Care House – our eighth housing project specifically for women and children in Vancouver. We hope that tenant supports including links to community health care and employment training will help families thrive. Congratulations to all our partners including the City of Vancouver, YWCA and the Vancouver Public Library on the opening of this innovative project.”


MEDIA NOTE:  To correctly present the branch name, nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona, the First Nations unicode typeface is available for download from the University of B.C.’s First Nations Languages program at

A pronunciation guide for nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona is attached. An audio file is available for reference through the VPL website at

Pronunciation guide for nə́c̓aʔmat ct

There are a large number of sounds in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ that aren’t in English. To represent them accurately, the standardized symbols of the North American Phonetic Alphabet (NAPA) are used.

The following is a pronunciation guide to facilitate your engagement with the words

nə́c̓aʔmat ct
We are one

The first syllable nə́c̓ is pronounced in a way that is very similar to the English word nuts

The unstressed ʔa is identical to the underlined vowel in but

The “a” in the last syllable is the same as the underlined vowel in father

-“mat” also rhymes with the name Mott as in Mott’s Clamato juice

The two letters at the end sound like “tst”

Pronunciation guide for hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓

hən̓q̓ rhymes with the English word hunk* but the q̓ is pronounced a bit farther down the throat than the k
əm is like the sound you might make when you’re thinking about something and you say “uhm”
i is identical to the underlined vowel in pizza
n̓əm̓ sounds very much like the word numb

* letters with corresponding apostrophes are glottalized

About Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library has been dedicated to meeting the lifelong learning, reading and information needs of Vancouver residents for more than 100 years. Our vision is an informed, engaged, and connected city. Our mission is a free place for everyone to discover, create and share ideas and information.

Last year, VPL had more than 6.8 million visits with patrons borrowing almost 9.4 million physical and digital items including: books, ebooks, movies, music and magazines. Across 21 locations, VPL is the most-visited major urban library per capita in Canada.


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