Vancouver city council approves rezoning for Downtown Eastside development

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A 353-unit development on East Hastings Street was given the green light by Vancouver city council today (October 30), as the majority of councillors voted to approve a rezoning for the site.

The vote followed a public hearing earlier this month on the development proposed by the Wall Financial Corporation and GBL Architects at 955 East Hastings.

Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie moved a motion adding some further conditions to the rezoning, which he said were based on points raised by speakers during the public hearing.

Those additional conditions include: that the applicant design some common areas where all the residents of the development can interact, and that the applicant and staff “work to maximize the welfare-rate component of the housing units”.

“It was a request from council, a majority, that asked the applicant and staff to work together to maximize the number of welfare-rate component housing units within that development,” Louie told the Straight by phone following the debate. “We are very interested in that. How that comes about, it’s unknown at this point in time.”

Council heard from both opponents and supporters of the Downtown Eastside development during the two-night public hearing. Some supporters said the project will provide needed housing to low-income families and seniors living in the area, while opponents called for a higher number of welfare-rate housing units to be included in the project, and raised concerns about the potential impacts of a major development on existing SRO buildings and low-income housing stock in the area.

The building will include 282 condo units and 70 city-owned units, which will be managed by a nonprofit operator. A third of those units will be rented at welfare rates, a third will be subsidized, and a third will go for low-end market rents.

Councillors Adriane Carr, George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball voted against the rezoning. Affleck criticized the process and acknowledged some of the community concerns around the proposal, and Carr called for the motion to be deferred until the Local Area Planning process for the Downtown Eastside is complete.

“I’m very concerned that we are undermining the Local Area Planning process and grassroots democracy,” Carr said in council chambers.

“I am for process, and I think we let the neighbourhood down on the process here,” added Affleck.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city is “forced to be creative” in order to generate new low-income housing without the degree of senior government support that’s needed.

“It would be nice if all of those were available at welfare rates, but certainly they will be available to people on lower incomes,” he said in council chambers. “That’s a lot better than nothing.”

The development, located across from Ray-cam Co-operative Centre, also includes over 64,000 square feet of commercial and light-industrial space.

The other conditions for the applicant approved by council today include coordinating with Ray-cam to prioritize the seniors and families they are working with for affordable housing within the development, and designing the development to accommodate a potential neighbourhood grocery store.

The project is still required to go before the city's Development Permit Board.

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Terrible Tim

Oct 30, 2012 at 11:53pm

The City made the right decision. Many of the neighbours support it. For good reason, they want to bring life to a part of Hastings that has seen little of it for a long time. Most of the people at RayCam support it, and so do aboriginal groups that want work for their own people.

As usual, the opponents have nothing to offer but complaints and whining.

Why don't the protesters ever step up to the plate themselves? Instead of losing every fight, and instead of their all-or-nothing extremism, why don't they build something they like?

These complainers need to learn how to organize a housing co-op. Assemble land -- perhaps one of the sites already owned by the city. Make a deal with a credit union, hire an architect, make detailed plans, apply for zoning, and just build something. Build something real and concrete and useful.

It's hard work. It's a hell of a lot harder than complaining and demanding all the time. But it get results in the long run. If the complainers actually started constructive work, they would be taken seriously.

Until then, they are just spinning their wheels.

Just damn well build what you want. Learn how to deal with opponents, bureaucrats, finance, and irresponsible tenants. It will open your eyes. You'll learn about the real world. And that would be good for everybody.

Just BUILD something. You will earn respect. And you'll have added 200 or 300 units of housing for the poor. THAT would be something to brag about.

3 5 Rating: -2

Lewis

Oct 31, 2012 at 7:44am

No....That's where the downtrodden and drug addicts live! Adrian will put a stop to that!

5 6 Rating: -1

Emily Cat

Oct 31, 2012 at 9:26am

No surprise that Councillors Affleck, Ball and Carr voted against this laudable development. They are advocates for low-density neighbourhood preservation e.g. Dunbar.

7 4 Rating: +3

Senior Leta

Oct 31, 2012 at 10:18am

It's going to result in less affordable housing in the city. There are a lot of artists in that neighbourhood too. They'll probably be displaced just like all the artists around Woodwards were.

5 6 Rating: -1

Chris Sandy

Oct 31, 2012 at 12:03pm

I live in Dunbar and it is a great nieghbourhood.

8 6 Rating: +2

3D in 2D

Oct 31, 2012 at 1:27pm

Looks like a nice development. I've noticed a lot of residential development on E Hastings street. I honestly don't know why someone would pay good money to live next to six lanes of heavy traffic.

9 6 Rating: +3

tedelection

Oct 31, 2012 at 1:52pm

neighborhood grocery store??? whatabout an Urban Fare

5 6 Rating: -1

JamieLee

Oct 31, 2012 at 2:32pm

This development will be horrendous for survival sex workers. In 1984 sex workers were pushed out of the West End and displaced to the Downtown Eastside streets. We saw how disastrous that was for our community. Violence soared and hundreds of women were brutally murdered. The DTES has been home to a number of sex workers who work right behind and underneath this proposed new development. There is no question that the new arrivals moving into this development upon commencing to be property owners will agitate for the sex workers to be pushed out of our community. I see many similarities from the battles of 1984 to what will be the current one. This time though we will not be displaced and if this means we will need to initiate legal challenges against those who bully us then that is what we will do. This proposed development will create much conflict and there will be no rest for those who target us.

10 5 Rating: +5

Save Vancouver

Nov 1, 2012 at 6:44pm

You have to give Vision Vancouver this: they screw all neighbourhoods of this city equally, rich or poor!

5 4 Rating: +1

Brody A. Williams

Feb 20, 2013 at 6:43pm

I am all for more low income housing just as long as they are not operated by the Portland Hotel Society, Rain City Housing or Arira and the reason being is when these poverty pimps take charge the housing projects are like jail. The horror stories are endless, but truely no more POVERTY PIMPS running are live or are place called home.

7 5 Rating: +2
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