VANCOUVER – Vancouver City Council has rejected a rezoning application for a 12-storey tower in the city’s historic Chinatown district by an eight to three margin.
Beedie Development Group first proposed the project in 2013 as a residential tower. It faced sustained and significant opposition from Chinatown residents and local activist groups. Other local groups supported the project as it would bring non-market housing to Chinatown.
In the intervening four years there have been several redesigns, including the final proposal integrating 106 market-priced units, 25 units for seniors and communal spaces.
"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. The debate over what kind of development will take place at 105 Keefer has gone far beyond that specific site, at times becoming a debate over the future of Chinatown, how we build and strengthen neighbourhoods, and how we embrace and integrate our heritage and history with modern development. This has been a very difficult decision," Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement.
Robertson voted against the project, citing strong neighbourhood opposition, but also said, "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."
A citizen group also applauded the council decision.
"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 Chinatown Concern Group organizer Betty Ho. "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."