Vancouver city council rejects Beedie Group rezoning bid for 105 Keefer Street

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      The Beedie Group's proposal for a 12-storey building in Chinatown has been one of the city's most contentious rezoning applications in years.

      Today, Vancouver city council turned the company down in an 8-3 vote.

      Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a statement maintaining that the developer "put significant effort into this project over the years...and went to extraaordinary lengths to adjust and revise the project based on public and community feedback".

      "Yet, council heard overwhelming opposition from several generations of Vancouver residents on the rezoning for 105 Keefer, and concern about how to manage Chinatown's pace of change," Robertson added. "For that reason, I voted 'no' on this rezoning process."

      Opponents included the local MP, MLAs, historians, architects, and even a former premier.

      Jenny Kwan, who has represented Vancouver East in Parliament since 2015, issued a statement thanking council for "taking to hear the passionate and thoughtful voices of opposition from a wide spectrum of community leaders, activists, and caring citizens".

      "This decision reaffirms the historical and cultural significance of Historic Chinatown," Kwan said. "It honours the memory and contributions of the Chinese veterans who fought for our rights and Railway Workers who helped to build this nation, especially as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. It is a statement that says the cultural heritage of Chinatown is worth fighting for."

      Objections ranged from the shortage of low-income housing in the project, its gentrifying impact, and its scale. It was proposed to be built beside the Chinatown Memorial Monument at the corner of Columbia and Keefer streets.

      Council's vote led to an impromptu celebration in the chamber by the project's many opponents

      Former B.C. Green candidate, long-time Chinatown advocate, architect, and graphic artist David Wong summed up the mood with the following illustration:

      In some respects, the campaign against 105 Keefer Street has been a watershed moment in the history of Vancouver, bringing several generations together in a common cause to preserve the city's heritage and to say no to gentrification.

      "During this public hearing process, I clearly heard anxiety but also excitement for new opportunities for Chinatown’s future—a neighbourhood in transition today," Robertson said. "Like all neighbourhoods, Chinatown will continue to change and evolve, and the public debate and dialogue will continue."