Low-income residents and community groups turned out in force to oppose 105 Keefer condo project, pressure Vancouver City Council to defer decision

(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.

For instance, the public hearing for 105 Keefer showed that Chinese-speaking residents are currently not able to participate equally in consultation processes, as Council declined to provide language interpretation of their proceedings. Council also decided that any interpretation into English would count within each speaker’s 5-minute time limit, effectively reducing how much Chinese-speaking residents were allowed to comment. Furthermore, after three nights filled with hundreds of speakers, Mayor and Council decided to reconvene at 9:30 am on Monday, which effectively barred the attendance of many speakers and the public, particularly working-class residents. Over the course of the week-long public hearing, CAG and CCG members, along with other speakers, called out these racist and exclusionary procedures, which seemed to have fallen on deaf ears at City Hall.

CAG and CCG vow to continue the fight for much-needed social housing in the neighbourhood while City Council wavers on a decision. In addition to opposing the condo development at 105 Keefer, CCG and CAG have developed a broader long-term strategy and vision for Chinatown to safeguard affordability and quality of life for Chinatown’s seniors and low-income residents.

Sid Tan, CAG Organizer and Chinatown resident, sees the recent mobilization against 105 Keefer as part of a long history in the Chinatown community: “The struggle of today’s residents honours the legacy of founders, who heroically battled and overcame generations of legislated racism. If this continues, the heart of Chinatown will again be strong and its soul full.”

Jannie Leung, CAG Organizer: “The strong community mobilization at this public hearing demonstrates the overwhelming desire for a Chinatown where seniors and low-income people are valued, their needs are met, and their voices are heard. CAG and CCG will continue to build an intergenerational community of resistance, drawing on the collective strength of low-income residents, seniors and youth united in action until this vision is realized.”

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MEDIA CONTACTS:

唐人街關注組 Chinatown Concern Group
何盈欣 Beverly Ho
Cell: 778-321-7027

華埠行動小組 Chinatown Action Group
Jannie Leung
Cell: 604-782-7068

 

Chinatown rally and festival against Beedie condo project at 105 Keefer St. Photo credit: Lenée Son.

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