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Big Vancouver Chinatown development 'likely' nearing approval despite community pushback

It's a controversial piece of land at the corner of Keefer and Columbia streets that's sat empty for years. Developer Beedie Living's condo tower was originally voted down by the City of Vancouver's Development Permit Board in 2017, but a challenge in B.C. Supreme Court plus a shift in community sentiment has given the project new life.

The nine-story, mixed-use commercial building with plans for retail, a senior living centre and 111 residential units is perhaps just a few days away from getting the green light.

“I think what we have to remember is that this isn’t a rezoning, this is an outright DP (development permit)," said city councillor Pete Fry. "So what it means is likely it will get approved at the Development Permit Board.”

According to the City of Vancouver, the three-person board has the authority to approve, approve with conditions or refuse a development permit application based on their evaluation of the proposal under the Zoning and Development Bylaw.

Council does not have the power to veto the application.

Some people in the neighbourhood have expressed concerns with the development.

"Having another condo built would definitely worsen the gentrification," said Nick Yung with the Vancouver Tenants Union.

Yung says he's disappointed with the several Chinatown associations that changed their stance and are now supporting the condo development.

"They are on the wrong side of history and we hope that they will open up to listen to low-income residents in this community more instead of just their own representatives," said Yung.

Seven legacy associations, including the Chinatown Business Improvement Association (BIA), signed a letter of support for the project to the City of Vancouver.

"It was quite evident the last three, four years that the social decay of the neighbourhood occurred without vibrant activity and people on the street," said Jordan Eng, president of the Chinatown BIA.

Eng says rampant crime has resulted in the BIA quadrupling its security budget over the past four to five years.

One business owner who works across the street from the lot says he believes the project will bring much-needed revitalization to the neighbourhood.

“What we need in this neighbourhood is more commerce, more foot traffic and more employed people," said Dustin Grant, owner of Bootleg Barbers.

"We're fighting an uphill battle. There's a lot of complicated issues in this neighbourhood. It's not a simple solution, but I would absolutely be in support of this project."

The Development Permit Board will hear more from the public on Monday before making a decision on whether or not to move forward with the project. Top Stories

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