“Chinatown development draws criticism”

May, 16, 2016 – Journal of Commerce

A proposed Chinatown development in Vancouver is coming under fire from community members for a third time

Vancouver-based Beedie Group has proposed a third version of a mixed-use development in the city’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, but the Chinatown Action Group, a coalition of neighbourhood activists, is opposed to what it maintains is a too-low number of social housing units.

The proposed building would have 119 market residential units, 25 senior social housing units, commercial space and a senior’s cultural space.

This is the third rezoning application made by the company, submitted on April 15, 2016. The first application in 2014 called for 137 market units, later revised to 127 market units and 25 senior social housing units.

But the Chinatown Action Group said in a news release that current levels of development will destabilize the neighbourhood by threatening the viability of small ethnic businesses and reduce housing options for lower-income residents, especially seniors.

“Now is the time to pause on further new development and for the City to deliver on its promise of a social impact study. We cannot in good conscience allow City Council to approve any further development projects – and especially one of the scale proposed at the culturally-sensitive site of 105 Keefer – until we have a better understanding of the impacts on the day-to-day lives of the local low-income community,” activist Godfrey Tang said in the release.

“An alarm has been sounded. Chinatown is number three on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List of endangered sites in the city, under threat due to high development pressure. We’re not talking about an individual building at risk of demolition here, we’re talking about an entire community,” Youth Collaborative for Chinatown member Doris Chow said.

A community open house was held on May 16 for the public to ask questions about the project to the applicant team and city staff.

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