Community activists in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood are celebrating after city council voted not to approve a proposal for a new condo tower at 105 Keefer Street.
Beedie Living has applied to the city several times seeking approval for a 12-storey condo building at the corner of Keefer and Columbia. At city council Tuesday, the proposal was defeated 8-3.
The building would have contained 25 social housing units for seniors, 110 market condo units, commercial space on the ground floor and a seniors’ cultural space. The application had been in the works since 2014, when it was first proposed as a 13-storey building with 137 market units and no social housing. It was redesigned several times and the height reduced, but still wasn’t able to achieve approval.
After today’s decision by Vancouver city council, it appears the project in its current form will not proceed. Beedie Living can still apply to construct a nine-storey market condominium building on the property under current zoning, but it would also likely face strong community opposition.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson admits the vote was a difficult decision.
“In my almost nine years as Mayor, no issue or project has yielded such a passionate, emotional response as this rezoning application for 105 Keefer,” he said in a statement issued following the vote.
“The Beedie group put significant effort into this project over the years with the City and community to address concerns about the proposal, and went to extraordinary lengths to adjust and revise the project based on public and community feedback,” Robertson added. “Yet, council heard overwhelming opposition from several generations of Vancouver residents on the rezoning for 105 Keefer, and concern about how to manage Chinatown’s pace of change. For that reason, I voted ‘no’ to this rezoning proposal.”
The Chinatown Concern Group (CCG) and Chinatown Action Group (CAG), two of the community groups leading opposition to the development, called the decision “a victory.”
“We commend Vancouver city council for choosing the side of Chinatown’s low-income residents over corporate profit, but the fight is not over,” said organizer Beverly Ho of the Chinatown Concern Group. “There is a housing crisis for Chinese seniors and other low-income people in the neighbourhood, and we are unwavering in our demand that this site can only be used to meet the pressing needs of our community.”
Robertson said he’s hopeful a new provincial government, along with the federal government, will invest in affordable housing in the neighbourhood.
“Moving forward, I urge us all to focus on what unites us on Chinatown: the need for local-serving retail, the imperative for upgrading heritage buildings, the necessity for accessible spaces for seniors.”