British Columbia

Vancouver council rejects townhouse development next door to hospice

After hours of impassioned debate, city councillors in Vancouver have rejected the rezoning application for a townhouse development next to a hospice on Granville Street in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood.

Councillors voted 7-4 against application after dramatic, packed meeting Tuesday

A rezoning application is underway for a proposal that would turn a single-family lot on Granville Street into 21 townhomes in two buildings, each between 2½ and 3½ storeys high. (City of Vancouver)

After hours of impassioned discussion, city councillors in Vancouver have rejected the rezoning application for a townhouse development next door to a hospice on Granville Street. 

Councillors voted 7-4 against the rezoning after a packed council meeting on Tuesday night. The proposed development, which can't proceed without rezoning, would turn a single-family lot in the city's Shaughnessy neighbourhood into 21 townhomes spread out between two buildings.

Coun. Jean Swanson voted against the rezoning, saying she supports densification of Vancouver's rental neighbourhoods but that this development wouldn't be the best way to do it.

"In this particular case, I think the landlord — the owner — is going to get a huge property boost from the rezoning," Swanson said after the meeting wrapped around 9:30 p.m. PT.

"The rents are just going to be too high for people who rent to afford."

Councillors attended three separate public hearings which took around nine hours and read — in theory — 548 letters sent by members of the public ahead of the vote.

Those who favoured the rezoning argued that Vancouver needs more rental housing, particularly for families, and must densify both arterial streets like Granville and single-family neighbourhoods on the city's West Side in general.

Coun. Jean Swanson, pictured in December, said rents in the proposed townhouse development would be too unaffordable for renters in the city. (Colin Fode/CBC)

Those against the development said they weren't against rezoning in all cases, but the proposal wouldn't work for the specific site, wouldn't make Vancouver more affordable and would infringe on the privacy of neighbours — in this case, the Vancouver Hospice Society, which has been operating at 4615 Granville St. for five years.

Coun. Colleen Hardwick said she was "a little surprised, but pleased" by the decision. She said the concept of neighbourliness was a sticking point for her.

"Neighbourliness has always been a key principle for property development, especially with existing communities ... that goes back to the '70s and somehow that has been lost along the way," Hardwick said, standing in the still-buzzing room after the vote.

Hardwick said the way council collects public feedback is "flawed," which became apparent to her during the consultation process for the Shaughnessy development. She said she's planning to put forward a motion to change how the city consults members of the public in future.

With files from Justin McElroy

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