Vancouver city council has approved a controversial rezoning proposal that will bring four new residential towers to the city’s West End.

The plan was hotly contested by some neighborhood renters who argued that the towers, featuring 133 luxury rental units on Beach Avenue, would not be affordable.

But on Tuesday, Mayor Gregor Robertson said the new units were an "important step" towards meeting the urgent need for new rental housing across the city.

"For hundreds of people this creates new homes in the West End at more affordable rates certainly than owning," he said.

Vancouver’s West End has the city’s lowest average rental vacancy rate at 0.85 per cent.

City council says it will implement a special housing agreement that will freeze the proposed rents of the new towers so they do not increase between the time the project is approved and the time the buildings are completed.