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Thursday, June 20, 2024

City of Vancouver may cancel controversial Chinatown rezoning policy

On the same day a crowd of community members gathered at City Hall to oppose a condo development at 105 Keefer Street in Chinatown, the city announced it’s considering canceling its rezoning policy for the area.

However, the proposed changes will not apply to “in-stream applications” like the 105 Keefer rezoning application, or the proposal to replace the Brickhouse at 728 Main Street with market condos.

That means if the 105 Keefer Street rezoning application is approved by the city, it could be one of the last tall buildings to be built in Chinatown for the foreseeable future.

The city says they’ve heard the community’s concerns about the rapid pace of change brought on by new market condo developments in the neighbourhood.

Feedback from the community

  • New developments are out of scale and lack character
  • Trading character for public benefits (i.e. – social housing, seniors housing, revitalization of nearby heritage buildings) “is not worth it”
  • The pace of development is putting pressure on existing businesses and Chinese seniors
  • Chinatown’s intangible heritage should be the cornerstone of revitalization


  • Tall and wide buildings will no longer be considered 
    • Cancel rezoning policy for Chinatown South. Over-height buildings will no longer be considered.
    • Buildings will be allowed to proceed under base zoning height of up to 75 ft. on Pender St. and up to 90 ft. in Chinatown South.
  • New buildings should be smaller, built on narrow lots with smaller storefronts
    • Improve base zoning by introducing more tools for greater character fit
    • Remove parking and reduce loading required to help smaller developments
  • Involve the community more in the review of new developments
    • Review the role of the Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee

The city says the proposed changes should help temper land speculation in the neighbourhood and slow down the pace of development. 

It’s not clear why the city is still entertaining the rezoning of 105 Keefer Street, as the current proposal would not be allowed under the new policy.

Consultation on the proposed changes began in Fall 2016. A staff report will go to city council in mid-June, with a public hearing planned for July 11, 2017.

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Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner
Peter Meiszner is an experienced journalist and media relations professional, based in Vancouver. As founder of urbanYVR.com, he has been reporting on urban development across the Lower Mainland since 2016, and has also served as vice-chair of the Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee. In October 2022, he was elected to Vancouver city council and is no longer actively reporting for urbanYVR.

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