A year ago, when the developer was receiving comments from the Chinatown community on their project, we clearly indicated that the 19 social housing units in the project were not enough and the ratio to market housing was not reasonable. We oppose gentrification and such market housing projects will only continue to gentrify Chinatown.
A year later, we are disappointed that the developer ignored these concerns. The number of social housing units has not increased; they are still not enough to replace the 24 low-income housing units currently at the site. Also, as this building continues to be predominantly a market housing project, it will contribute to the gentrification of Chinatown. These are our main criticisms of this project.
“The Province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver are working together to have Vancouver’s Chinatown designated a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site. As part of this, the Province and the City have also committed to establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum.” (See the government’s website here)
Based on our current understanding of this project, this is our present initial position (as of Nov. 29, 2018):
”First, we acknowledge that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the
xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.
Currently Chinatown faces continuing gentrification that displaces people from their homes, creating more and more homelessness, and pushes out retail stores selling affordable goods. Remembering the history of anti-Chinese racism and celebrating the resiliency and lives of Chinese immigrants are very important and so we thank the Government of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver for valuing the history of Chinese people living in Canada. At the same time, we also need to acknowledge that these issues continues today and are affecting people who live and depend on Chinatown for their survival. With that being said, Chinatown Concern Group holds the following views on the plan to build a Chinese Canadian Museum in Chinatown:
Chinatown residents speak on issues they face in the neighbourhood at People’s Vision launch on July 16, 2017 at nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona Library. Photo credit: Sid Chow Tan.
Angered by the City’s failed gentrification policies and 105 Keefer, residents take action
(Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, July 17, 2017) – Yesterday, July 16, 2017, Chinatown Concern Group (CCG) and Chinatown Action Group (CAG) launched an better vision for Chinatown called the ‘People’s Vision.’ The vision document is a response to failed City policies, such as the Chinatown Economic Revitalization Action Plan (CRAP), that continue to gentrify the neighbourhood and displace low-income residents.
In September, Vancouver City Council will consider the CRAP, a new zoning plan for Chinatown that will let developers build more expensive condos up to 90 feet tall in Chinatown without including any social housing. If it passes, more gentrifying projects like 105 Keefer will take over Chinatown and inevitably raise rents and the cost of living for low-income residents.
Instead, the community is proposing the People’s Vision for Chinatown, a strategy for the social and economic development of the community. From 2015 to 2017, 500 Chinatown residents, businesses, and community members shared their vision of the community through surveys, interviews, and facilitated “tea time” discussions. The top issues community members are concerned with are: increased cost of living, unaffordable housing, social isolation, safety, political marginalization, and racism.
Low-income Chinatown residents celebrate the defeat of Beedie’s 105 Keefer rezoning application. Photo credit: Lenee Son.
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories – The Chinatown Concern Group (CCG) and Chinatown Action Group (CAG) applaud the Vancouver City Council’s 8-3 decision to reject Beedie Living’s rezoning application at the 105 Keefer site in Chinatown. This decision is an important victory for the Chinatown community, but CAG and CCG vow to continue the fight until 100% welfare-pension rate social housing and a public intergenerational community space are secured for this site. Council echoes the needs of the community to look for deeper solutions to the housing crisis in Chinatown instead of another condo project that would provide a measly 25 units of social housing.
“We commend Vancouver City Council for choosing the side of Chinatown’s low-income residents over corporate profit, but the fight is not over. 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,” Beverly Ho, CCG Organizer, says.
(Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, May 29, 2017) – In the face of major opposition and community mobilization, Vancouver City Council deferred the decision on the rezoning application to June 13th, 2017. This follows a week-long public hearing at City Hall, where Chinatown residents, organizations, and community members packed City Hall to voice their opposition to the proposed condo development. Chinatown Concern Group (CCG) and Chinatown Action Group (CAG) continue to call on Vancouver City Council to reject Beedie Living’s rezoning application at the 105 Keefer site in Chinatown.
“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,” Beverly Ho, CCG Organizer, says.
The battle against 105 Keefer symbolizes the broader ongoing struggle against gentrification which was accelerated by the upzoning of Chinatown in 2011 by City Council. The rezoning process also reveals a deeply flawed process of democratic engagement.
2430 Petition Signers Demand Social Housing and Community Space Instead
(Unceded Coast Salish Territories – May 23, 2017) On Tuesday, May 23rd, Chinatown Concern Group and Chinatown residents will deliver a petition with 2430 signers directly to Mayor Gregor at Vancouver City Hall demanding protection of low-income residents, not corporate developer profits. Just in the past week over a thousand people have signed the petition in anticipation of the Public Hearing on May 23rd.
The petition, which is hosted on Leadnow.ca’s advocacy website, reads:
“Protect the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown by:
Rejecting Beedie’s 105 Keefer Rezoning Application and
Acquiring the 105 Keefer St. site and
Developing the site to meet community’s needs, including low-income seniors housing and an intergenerational community space!”
One petition signer noted: “Protecting communities is important. Communities make us human in a way that sterile, impersonal towers don’t. People must come before profits.”
Another petition signer is concerned about the housing crisis in Vancouver and B.C.: “At a time when this province and city desperately need an increase in affordable housing, we need to stop this luxury development!”
Chinatown residents will deliver a petition with 2430 signatures demanding Mayor Gregor reject of 105 Keefer St. Rezoning Application at the Public Hearing and protect low-income residents, not developer profits.
Tuesday, May 23rd, 5 PM Press Conference (City Hall – South Entrance), 6 PM Public Hearing (Council Chambers)
Vancouver City Hall – 453 W. 12th Ave, Vancouver, BC
Chinatown Concern Group is a group of Chinese residents organizing to ensure Chinatown is thriving, livable and affordable.
A box of petitions and 100 residents, seniors, and community members with colourful signs, noisemakers, and a large banner, chanting and speaking on the steps of Vancouver City Hall.
LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS: MAYOR GREGOR, PROTECT THE HEART OF CHINATOWN! Hundreds Demand Rejection of 105 Keefer St. Luxury Condos at Public Hearing
(Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories – May 16, 2017) On Tuesday, May 23rd, residents, organizations, and community members will descend on Vancouver City Hall to demand that Mayor Gregor protect low-income residents and the heart of Chinatown, not corporate developer profits. After four revisions and over two years of consultations and mobilizations, Chinatown Concern Group, Chinatown Action Group, and other youth organizations won small concessions from the 105 Keefer St. project: 25 senior units, temporary space for a private seniors’ organization, and a 23% reduction in market units (137 to 106 units).
Still, the project threatens to displace Chinatown’s predominantly low-income community. 106 market units will dramatically increase rents in the neighbourhood and the token 25 senior units are likely to be still out of reach for low-income tenants. Instead, Chinatown Concern Group is calling for 100% welfare-pension rate social housing and public and permanent cultural community space.
The City of Vancouver is proposing to gentrify Chinatown through a mass rezoning plan called the CRAP (Chinatown Economic Revitalization Action Plan).
The CRAP will open the floodgates for condo development in Chinatown, raising rents, increasing evictions, and accelerating the displacement of the neighbourhood’s most vulnerable residents and small businesses.
The CRAP proposes drastically increasing building heights (up to 150 feet tall, or 14 stories) and building frontages (up to 200 feet wide), while gutting the existing public consultation process of open houses and public hearings. If the CRAP passes City Council, projects like the 12-story 105 Keefer condo development would not be required to undergo zoning review or public consultation at all.
Instead of approving the CRAP, the City should implement policies to honour the history of Chinatown by ensuring that the neighbourhood remains permanently affordable and welcoming to seniors, workers, and low-income people of all backgrounds.
Sign this letter to tell Mayor Gregor Robertson, City Council, and City staff to:
Reject the mass rezoning plan (“CRAP)” for Chinatown;
Commit to engaging the existing community, especially low-income residents and small businesses, in preparing a new area plan for Chinatown that will stop further gentrification and displacement; and
Implement policies put forward by Chinatown residents, including the demands of Chinatown Concern Group.
Chinatown Concern Group’s demands:
Do not permit any more market-rate developments in Chinatown until the number of new social housing units being developed in the neighbourhood matches the number of new market-rate housing units
Zone Chinatown as a single, unified district
Designate Chinatown as a Heritage Conservation Area
Require that at least 50% of the gross floor area of new developments in Chinatown be for social housing
Define social housing in Chinatown as units rented at no more than the maximum welfare or pension shelter allowance or 30% of OAS/GIS income
Limit building heights to a maximum of 50 feet tall (with 100% social housing projects considered separately)
Limit building frontages to a maximum of 50 feet wide (with not-for-profit developments considered separately)
Meet the community demands for 105 Keefer Street:
Reject the rezoning application by Beedie Living
Direct the City to acquire the 105 Keefer Street site in partnership with the Provincial and Federal governments
Provide 100% social housing on the site, with rents not to exceed the maximum welfare or pension shelter allowance or 30% of OAS/GIS income
Provide an intergenerational, multi-use community space, with an emphasis on serving seniors
Support culturally appropriate Chinatown retail through business-friendly policies such as property tax deductions or other subsidies
Prohibit chain stores (such as has been done in San Francisco Chinatown)