Chinatown community organizers vow to stop 105 Keefer St. condos

105 Keefer Street proposal by Beedie Living, which was rejected by Vancouver city council in June 2017. A reworked nine-storey proposal has been submitted to the city.

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.