The proposed development at 105 Keefer has raised the ire of the Chinatown Revitalization Committee. This development flies in the face of the vision and values expressed by the faithful volunteers who have worked for years on revitalization.
Here’s a sample of one submission to the city from UBC professor Dr. Henry Yu:
I am adamantly opposed to the proposed rezoning. Having been a part of the Chinatown Vision and revitalization consultation process for the last decade, and supportive of the consensus created through much hard work involving over 30 Chinatown organizations as well as interested stakeholders from all over the city of Vancouver, I am appalled that all of the work that went into that process will be destroyed in one moment of massive disappointment and failure. This proposal flies in the face of all of the agreed upon principles in the Vision that took so much political work to agree upon. What is needed is a freeze or moratorium on development permits in the Chinatown area until we have created better policy instruments and tools for planners to implement the Chinatown revitalization strategy, and assurances that those who came together to create the revitalization strategy have more formal participation in the shaping of the development of Chinatown. This building could be placed anywhere in the city–Yaletown, False Creek/Olympic Village–why is it in Chinatown? Allow the developers to build it in another site that does not fly in the face of the historic character of Chinatown, and which does not insult community stakeholders by saying that 137 luxury residential units are a higher priority than seniors housing and other needs identified in the Chinatown Vision and revitalization strategy. If the City of Vancouver goes ahead and allows this rezoning, or even if this becomes a permit application to go ahead at 12 stories without rezoning, there will be an open, ugly and vicious political war on City Hall that makes the freeway fight look like a nostalgic moment of togetherness. It will tear the hard won consensus of Chinatown apart, and lead to a mistrust of city planners and City Hall for years to come. The greatest danger is that this development is symbolic of a promise not delivered. The Chinatown Vision and revitalization process was one where the city asked the various Chinatown organizations and community stakeholders to take part, and in exchange for the consultation the City would honour the priorities and commitments made, and protect the unique cultural character of the community. The promises have not been fulfilled, and having this building join 188 and 189 Keefer as three glass towers that have no connection to the street life or cultural fabric of Chinatown is not just an insult, but is easily understood as an act of aggression in terms of misleading the community with promises that went unfulfilled. I am personally angered by the bait and switch quality of the Chinatown Vision process in which I took part in good faith, and also in which I put my own personal and scholarly reputation behind to convince others to take part. I am livid that my bona fide participation as a volunteer for years in various capacities both as a scholar and as a community member has led to this proposal sitting in the last best anchor site for the revitalization of Chinatown. Nothing about this proposal will drive forward the strategic needs of Chinatown and its revitalization. It is anathema to all of the hard work that has been done