British Columbia

Vancouver rejects downtown high-rise proposals

Vancouver city council has rejected a controversial plan that could have dramatically blocked some downtown views with four new high-rises.

But three new towers approved in Chinatown and Gastown.

Vancouver city council has rejected a controversial plan that could have dramatically blocked some downtown views with four new high-rises.

Councillors voted against the downtown proposal on Tuesday, saying any new towers must obey existing rules protecting view corridors and must also use green building designs.

Developers had argued that increasing the height limitations would have added about one million square-feet of residential and commercial space to the downtown core.

Three of the towers would have been built on West Georgia Street, with the fourth on Burrard Street.

The tallest downtown building is the Shangri-La condominium, hotel and retail tower on West Georgia, which stands at the current height limit of 62 storeys, or 197 metres.

But the new towers would have blocked several existing view corridors of the city's North Shore Mountains and residents made it very clear they did not want their views jeopardized, said Coun. Heather Deal.

"When you're out there on the streets talking to people, people love the views," said Deal.

New towers approved in Chinatown and Gastown

Council did approve a proposal to allow high-rises of up to 12 storeys in Chinatown, raising the old limit of nine storeys, while two buildings in neighbouring Gastown were allowed to go to 15 stories.

Coun. George Chow said he is counting on higher density to help with Chinatown's revitalization.

"I'm hoping that if you build them, they will come, and all our social problems and other problems will be resolved," said Chow.

But Coun. Ellen Woodsworth, disagreed, saying the changes don't include protection for the area's current low-income rental stock.

"70 per-cent of Gastown is low-income residents. We're going to see more people on the streets, whether they're Chinese seniors, students, the artists who live in Gastown, or the welfare recipients," said Woodsworth.

"We are a council that is committed to ensuring low-income housing. I think what we've proceeded with, is going to increase our problem," she said. 

 

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