Rejected 5 times, divisive Vancouver Chinatown condo back for decision – BC | Canadian

It’s been rejected five times, but a controversial condo development proposed for Vancouver’s historic Chinatown could get the green light Monday night.

The nine-storey, 111-unit building at 105 Keefer St. proposed by Beedie Living is before the city’s Development Permit Board once again, as project opponents staged a rally outside City Hall.

Nicolas Yung, one of the community organizers leading Monday’s rally said the project is too close to key cultural assets in the historic neighbourhood, including the Chinese Cultural Centre, the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens and the Chinatown Memorial Plaza.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Chinatown condo project debate'

Vancouver Chinatown condo project debate

He said seniors in the neighbourhood want to see the condo project rejected, and for the city to develop a plan to build 100 per cent social housing on the long-vacant lot.

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“Seniors are frustrated and they’re angry. They feel we have defeated Beedie five times, and Beedie still wants to develop this condo next to our very important cultural — probably the most important land in Chinatown,” he said.

“(Social housing is) what the community needs, that’s something we have been fighting for for decades. We know how important it is, how social housing is a solution for homelessness, and for a lot of other problems the community has been facing.”

Opponents argue the development will bring more “luxury” condo units to the neighbourhood, hastening gentrification which could displace longtime residents.

A rendering of a condo project proposed for 105 Keefer Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

A rendering of a condo project proposed for 105 Keefer Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

City of Vancouver

The version of the project before the board Monday is the same one that the body last rejected in 2017.

Last December, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled in favour of developer Beedie Living, finding the board had failed to adequately provide reasons for the rejection, and ordered it to hear the proposal again.

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A previous 12-storey iteration of the project included 25 units of seniors’ housing, but that version of the development was rejected amid opposition over the building’s height.

A number of legacy Chinatown groups have come out in support of the development, including The Chinese Cultural Centre, the Dr. Sun-Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden Society, the Chinese Benevolent Association and the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association.

“It’s really unfortunate we have this divisiveness that has been brought on by a lot of misleading information that has been circulated by the activists that have been really embedded in the community,” BIA president Joran Eng said.

Eng argued the development is needed to help revitalize the struggling neighbourhood, which saw vandalism and street disorder worsen over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Having more eyes on the street, having more people around really deters that,” he said.

“The organizations that have come together are cultural, social, housing providers, business organizations — and the support represents a deep fabric of the neighbourhood and a broad base of constituents.”

While the Development Permit Board could make a decision as early as Monday night, the matter could still take time to decide — with more than 70 people registered to speak at Monday’s meeting.

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