A much debated proposal for a 12-storey tower in the heart of Chinatown was voted down by Vancouver city council Tuesday afternoon.
The 105 Keefer Street development was rejected by a margin of 8-3, with Mayor Gregor Robertson and five of six Vision Vancouver councillors joining NPA Coun. George Affleck and Green Coun. Adrianne Carr in opposition.
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The development was pitched by the Beedie Development Group in 2013 as a residential project.
Since then, it has been the subject of many public hearings, protests and redesigns, with the final proposal including 106 market-priced units and 25 "low-to-moderate income" seniors units, along with some communal spaces.
Those in favour of the project said it would bring more non-market housing to the neighbourhood, while those against said it would raise rents in the surrounding area and indirectly displace the community.
"In my almost nine years as mayor, no issue or project has yielded such a passionate, emotional response as this rezoning application," said Robertson in a statement.
"The Beedie group put significant effort into this project over the years ... and went to extraordinary lengths to adjust and revise the project based on public and community feedback.
"Yet, council heard overwhelming opposition from several generations of Vancouver residents on the rezoning for 105 Keefer, and concern about how to manage Chinatown's pace of change. For that reason, I voted "no" to this rezoning proposal."
After the vote was cast, Beddie vice-president Houtan Rafii lamented what he characterized as misinformation about the proposal but accepted council's decision.
"We think it's perhaps a loss for Chinatown but nevertheless we respect it," he said.
Beverly Ho of Chinatown Concern Group very happy 105 Keefer plan rejected - says anything built there should be 100% social housing pic.twitter.com/hZK9NtNGOn— @BellePuri
'When circumstances change, you have to change those plans'
Vision Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang said the result of the vote was unknown to his fellow councillors in the hours leading up to the meeting.
"It was very interesting. Everyone was flip-flopping, figuring out what to do, how to find the best solution for Chinatown., and that's how it fell out today," he said, adding he was personally concerned by how the tower would impact natural light in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
"For the first time, I saw senior leadership ... actually very split. To see the community so split, that said to me 'something's not right here.' I erred on the side of caution, and voted against it ... plans are plans. When circumstances change, you have to change those plans."
Councillor Kerry Jang will NOT support 105 Keefer proposal for Chinatown - says it's too tall. @CityofVancouver— @BellePuri
The Chinatown Concern Group and Chinatown Action Group, who have fought against the project, issued a joint statement celebrating the decision.
"We commend Vancouver City Council for choosing the side of Chinatown's low-income residents over corporate profit, but the fight is not over," said Beverly Ho with the Chinatown Concern Group.
"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."