Vancouver council has approved a plan by the owners of the Canucks to build three residential and commercial towers next to Rogers Arena — the city's largest rental housing project in 40 years.

The Aquilini Investment Group says complex will include 614 rental condos, and rents are expected to range from $1,200 to $2,000.

Some rental groups have already criticized the project, saying the rates are too high for people on welfare, and there are no social housing units in the plan.

But Counc. Kerry Jang says the city needs a range of rental housing.

"We need a range of housing options for people of all ages and incomes," said Jang. "For the first time in decades, we are seeing purpose-built Vancouver rental housing finally being constructed to help realize that goal."

The complex is targeted at professionals and families with average annual incomes of $80,000 who want to live downtown, he said.

"When you think about it, if you were to buy a house, or a condo in the city of Vancouver, your average mortgage payment would be more than $3,000, so this gives families the opportunity to live downtown in a brand new place, but also helps them save money for eventual home-ownership in due course," said Jang.

The largest rental project in the city's history was Langara Gardens, which was built in the early 70's.