Chinatown community organizers vow to stop 105 Keefer St. condos

Controversial rezoning application heads to public hearing

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105 Keefer fourth redesign
Latest design of 105 Keefer, which is facing stiff opposition from community members.

Community activists in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside are demanding the city reject a rezoning proposal for condos at 105 Keefer Street and 544 Columbia Street.

The project by Beedie Living has redesigned four times and has faced an uphill battle getting approval from the city. In response to criticism over the number of social housing units and gentifrication, the developer agreed to add 25 senior units, temporary space for a private seniors’ organization, and a 23% reduction in market units (137 to 106 units).

However, activists say the 106 market units will dramatically increase rents in the neighbourhood, and the 25 promised units for seniors will not be affordable for those on pensions and social assistance. 

Beverly Ho of Chinatown Concern Group says the project threatens to displace the predominately low-income community of seniors in Chinatown.

“New luxury condos are going up at breakneck speeds in Chinatown while residents living on a knife’s edge of affordability are being pushed out. Mayor Gregor has the responsibility to protect the heart of Chinatown and ensure Chinatown is thriving and affordable. Our ask is simple: reject Beedie’s 105 Keefer rezoning application.”

The rate of change in Chinatown has been dramatic, with new condo developments changing the face of Main Street between Pender and Georgia Streets in just a couple years. With the addition of hundreds of new middle-class residents to the neighbourhood, many new shops and stores have opened in the area. Activists say these new shops are pushing out businesses such as grocers that are affordable to the low-income community.

A public hearing is scheduled for May 23 at 6 p.m., City Hall, Third Floor, Council Chamber.

Members of the Chinatown Concern Group say they will be there with colourful signs, noisemakers, and a large banner, chanting and speaking on the steps of City Hall.

  • Marilyn Hogan

    The people are not against development — just not THIS development. Most of the suites would be super expensive and drive out the locals who would want to live there if a social housing development with a public mixed-use space were built. And maybe space for local businesses who can’t afford the exorbitant rent that a big, fancy building would cost. They want a building that ordinary people can afford to live in. That is possible if the city purchases the land and then swaps it with the developer to put the expensive building elsewhere.

  • Beaverton71

    This doesn’t make any sense. Do these people actually not want new businesses or people coming into the neighbourhood?? That is ridiculous.

    • GeeWhiz

      @beaverton71:disqus why not keep the housing supply low, the tourists out, the buildings run-down & the lots empty. all in the middle of downtown. that will be sure to help the shopkeepers & residents get ahead. (#sarcasm)

    • The organizers believe it will contribute to the further gentrification of Chinatown, but at least this development is not displacing anyone (it’s on a gravel parking lot that has been empty for years), and also includes social housing and space for seniors.