City council rejects Chinatown tower proposal

Councillors turn down rezoning bid for a 12-storey tower at 105 Keefer Street

| Rob Kruyt

After four public hearings in May and over 300 speakers, Vancouver city council voted against Beedie Development Group’s plan for a 12-storey mixed-use building to be built at 105 Keefer Street.

City councillors on Tuesday (June 13) voted 8-3 against the proposal, with the opponents arguing that the proposed building was too tall and that only a third of the 25 units of seniors’ housing proposed by the developer would be required to be rented at welfare-level rates – a proportion insufficient to outweigh concerns about the proposed height of the building.

Coun. Kerry Jang said given how close 105 Keefer Street is to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, a building of the height proposed by the developer would interfere with enjoyment of the garden. He said it would be better to “err on the side of caution” in development of the site.

The three councillors who supported the proposal argued that more social housing units are desperately needed for the area, and said the plan guarantees that at least some will be built, in addition to a new seniors’ cultural space at street level.

“I will not vote against social housing,” said Coun. Raymond Louie. He said that while the building’s tall height is a concern, the additional height allows for social units and a space for seniors to be built.

The property is under HA-1A (Chinatown historic area) zoning, which limits building heights to 90 feet. Rezoning it to CD-1 (comprehensive development) would have increased the height limit to 120 feet.