Chinatown groups back controversial Keefer Street development plan

Supporters and opponents of proposed Keefer Street development prepare for May 29 meeting

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A group of Chinatown business and community organizations are backing a controversial plan to redevelop a site in the 100 block of Keefer Street.

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“This is an unprecedented collective show of support for our community, when it comes to development,” Jordan Eng, president of the Chinatown Business Improvement Association, said in a letter released Wednesday.

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“While our community was divided on this issue in 2014, much has changed since then, and today we stand together to support this project and Chinatown’s continued redevelopment; this important historical and cultural jewel of our city”.

Eng’s letter concerned an application to develop a vacant lot at 105 Keefer Street that will be filed with the city’s Development Permit Board on May 29.

The case dates back to 2013 when real estate developer Ryan Beedie, through Beedie Holdings, bought the property near the intersection of Keefer and Columbia streets, adjacent to Chinatown Memorial Plaza and near Dr. Sun Yat-sen Gardens.

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In 2014, Beedie submitted a development permit for a building three stories taller than allowed under zoning for the historic Chinatown area, where the site is located, and was rejected.

In 2017, another plan was submitted that fell within the zoning rules, comprising a nine-story mixed-use building with 111 residential suites, retail, and a senior center on the ground floor and three levels of parking below.

Dozens of protesters attended the Development Permits Board’s consideration of the 2017 application, claiming that the proposed development was out of character for the neighborhood.

Chinatown residents gather in front of City Hall in Vancouver, BC on October 30, 2017.
Chinatown residents gather in front of City Hall in Vancouver, BC on October 30, 2017. Photo by Arlen Redekop /png

The board again denied the request, however Beedie appealed the decision in the British Columbia Supreme Court and won.

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Last December, the court ruled that the board’s decision was incorrect because its reasons for doing so were inadequate and that they should consider the request again, hence the May 29 meeting.

Wednesday’s letter from seven Chinatown business and community groups comes three weeks after University of BC academic and urban planner Louisa-May Khoo told Postmedia News she expected to see protests over the latest development permit application. .

Some advocates say community opposition to Beedie’s proposal has only grown in the past five years.

They cite the province’s last-minute purchase of the Grace Seniors Home on East Pender Street in 2021 to prevent 70 units of such housing from being lost to a private sale.

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“There is an even greater need for culturally appropriate housing, so we don’t feel that (the board) erred in its original judgment,” said Mike Tan, former co-chairman of the Vancouver Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group.

The pro-development group includes the BIA, Vancouver Chinese Charitable Association, Vancouver Chinese Freemasons, Dr., Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden Society, Greater Vancouver Chinese Cultural Center, Association of Merchants of Vancouver Chinatown and Vancouver Chinatown. Base.

— with file by Joanne Lee-Young

[email protected]

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