Around 200 people packed a community hall for a heated public-information meeting about a proposed 891-unit housing development on the historic Shannon Mews site in southwest Vancouver.
The meeting, held last night (January 12) at Ryerson Memorial Centre, marked the start of a round of public consultations led by the City of Vancouver on the contentious project.
Wall Financial Corp., a prominent Vancouver development firm, has proposed creating a mix of market-priced rental and condominium housing on the four-hectare site, including a 14-storey and a 13-storey tower.
In August 2010, the proponents submitted a rezoning application to change the property’s designation from RS-6 (residential) to CD-1 (comprehensive development).
In the early 1900s, sugar magnate Ben Rogers commenced construction of a Beaux-Arts-style mansion on the site, located at Granville Street and West 57th Avenue.
Celebrated B.C. architect Arthur Erickson designed two townhouses on the property, which is now home to 162 market rental units.
Tenants of the Shannon Mews site, area residents, and city staff attended the public information meeting. Vancouver city councillors Suzanne Anton, George Chow, and Raymond Louie were also present.
The meeting was intended to provide the public with an overview of the city’s rezoning procedures and how to provide input into the planning process.
Brent Toderian, the city’s top planner, thanked the crowd for attending the meeting.
He said city council has called for a more rigorous public-consultation process than usual because the proposed project is big and complex.
“We have come to no conclusions yet,” he told the audience. “We are not making any recommendations to council. We are in listening mode and we are in learning mode.”
After hearing a presentation, the crowd peppered city planning officials with questions and concerns about the development. The audience sometimes erupted in cheers whenever a resident made a strong point about the impact of the project on the neighbourhood.
John Brimacombe, with the Shannon Mews Neighbours’ Association, told the Straight it’s hard to find any area residents who support the proposal.
He highlighted concerns about the potential impact on the character of the neighbourhood, which has many single-family homes.
“The place that’s right for redevelopment is a place where the neighbourhood is declining, the houses are [torn] down,” said Brimacombe, a retired high-school teacher who has lived near the Shannon Mews site for around 25 years. “You might as well redevelop and make something nicer. Not here.”
Brimacombe also emphasized the traffic issue. According to the association, there is already a great deal of traffic on Granville Street and West 57th Avenue during rush hour. "Another thousand cars getting in and out from the new complex daily, will create a lot of traffic problems (congestion, enhanced potential for accidents, etc.)," the group says on its website.
The Shannon Mews Neighbours’ Association also questions whether the area can accommodate potentially thousands of new residents.
Bruno Wall, president of Wall Financial Corp., described the meeting turnout as fantastic. He encouraged people to share their opinions on the proposed development.
“We want their input,” Wall told the Straight. “With their input we can deliver a better project.”
He said the primary benefit of the project would be more housing options, including apartments, townhomes, and opportunities for rental or ownership.
City planning officials say a public hearing on the Shannon Mews rezoning is expected in July.
Public information meetings are also planned in Mandarin and Cantonese.