After a week of public hearings into a proposed condominium development at 105 Keefer Street in Chinatown, Vancouver city council has decided to defer a decision on the rezoning application until June 13.
It follows several public hearings into the controversial development proposal by Beedie Living, which has already been redesigned four times in the hopes of getting the city and community’s blessing.
The 12-storey building will have 110 market condos (down from 134 in earlier proposals) and 25 social housing units, as well as amenity space for seniors.
Hundreds of new condominiums have been constructed along Main Street between East Pender and Georgia streets in the past five years, and the neighbourhood is gentrifying rapidly.
Low-income residents and community groups say the new condos and associated land speculation are pushing long-time residents — including Chinese seniors and the businesses they rely on — out of the area.
The Chinatown Concern Group says the battle against 105 Keefer Street symbolizes a broader, ongoing struggle against gentrification in the Downtown Eastside, which was accelerated by the up-zoning of Chinatown in 2011 by city council.
“If Vancouver City Council approves the rezoning, they will have chosen corporate profit over the needs of Chinatown’s low-income residents. Our fight is not over,” says community organizer Beverly Ho.
The group is calling the City of Vancouver to purchase the site from developer Beedie Living, and construct 100 per cent social housing at welfare rates.
They also say the public hearing was unfair to Chinese-speaking residents of the neighbourhood, as the city did not provide language interpretation services for the public hearing.
In addition, interpretation into English counted within each speaker’s five-minute time limit, effectively reducing how much Chinese-speaking residents were allowed to comment. Concerns were also raised over the 9:30 a.m. start time of Monday’s public hearing session, when many people were unable to attend.
The proposal has mobilized community groups, architects and urban planners on social media. Here’s some of the conversation around the proposal:
— BLAH CITY (@BLAH_CITY) May 30, 2017
I see Ryan Beedie has arrived and is listening to the proceedings at back of council chambers. #105keefer
— Frances Bula (@fabulavancouver) May 29, 2017
— Todd Smith (@toddsmithdesign) May 28, 2017
— Andy Yan (@Ayan604) May 28, 2017
It's also clear to me that #105Keefer rezoning proposal fails the community support test (critical for that site) + should not be approved.
— neal lamontagne (@nlamontagne) May 30, 2017
— Melody Ma | 馬勻雅 (@melodyma) May 30, 2017
— Beverly Ho (@ho_yingyun) May 30, 2017
— Justin Fung (@jhwfung) May 30, 2017
Can we just reiterate that gentrification via #105keefer will only further criminalize and displace the vulnerable, incl. drug users?
— Amanda Wan (@ricepaperbird) May 30, 2017
Wilson Leung: Opposes #105keefer. Chinatown is about authentic cultural experience, real people live here. Majority Chinese seniors.
— Frances Bula (@fabulavancouver) May 30, 2017