Vancouver officials reject building application – a first since 2006

by Paolo Taruc

The Urban Development Institute (UDI) has criticized the decision of Vancouver authorities last week to deny the Beedie Living mixed-used condo project in Chinatown.

“This ruling creates significant uncertainty because our members don’t know if they can rely on zoning, urban area plans, advice of city staff or recommendations of the Urban Design Panel,” said UDI president and CEO Anne McMullin in a statement.

She described the move as a “surprise decision,” as the proposal was revised five times over four years and received the support of expert city staff, the city’s Urban Design Panel of design professionals.

McMullin warned that the denials sends a “negative chill” throughout the industry at a time when when housing supply in market, rental and affordable homes has reached historic lows.

“Our members, and the thousands of individuals represented in all facets of development and building, are concerned this decision undermines the integrity and reliability of the City’s rigorous planning regime, and puts into question future projects, not only in Chinatown, but across the City,” she added.

Opponents of the development believe its construction would gentrify the area and price out the community’s marginalized residents. “In the neighbouring 189 Keefer building, we have seen 1 bedroom condos being sold for just under half a million dollars. In a neighbourhood where the median household income of the area is $27,000 and social housing waitlists are years long, and with over 2000 homeless people in Vancouver, it would be completely inappropriate to allow more condos to be built instead of affordable social housing,” said Jannie Leung of the Chinatown Action Group.

The city’s decision marked the first time since 2006 that the city’s Development Permit Board has rejected a building application.

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