Chinatown residents rally to oppose condo beside memorial
The proposed 12-storey condo, if approved, would be built next a memorial dedicated to Chinese-Canadians
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Chinatown advocates are once again readying themselves for a fight to protect their way of life in a corner of the neighbourhood that holds special meaning to the community.
The proposed 12-storey condo would be built next to the Chinese-Canadian memorial at 105 Keefer St.. But many current Chinatown residents won’t be able to afford to live next to the very memorial dedicated to them and their families, said advocate Beverly Ho, with the Chinatown Concern Group.
“The development is disrespectful in that most of the units won’t be affordable and it’s right next to the memorial commemorating Chinese-Canadians who built the country and who had to deal with the head tax,” the 22-year old explained.
The memorial features a statue of a railroad worker and a veteran standing beside the Chinese character zhong, symbolizing harmony.
Beedie Group’s revised rezoning application for the parking lot beside the memorial details a 110-unit condo that includes 25 BC Housing units for seniors. Ho, who grew up in Chinatown, doubts whether the neighbourhood’s low-income residents will be able to afford them.
Rental rates for the 25 seniors units have not been announced yet.
But even if the rate was affordable for seniors on pensions, 25 homes is not nearly enough for the several thousands of seniors that live in the Downtown Eastside, many of whom live in old buildings that need repair, said Ho.
“It doesn’t even make a dent.”
About 100 Chinatown residents are set to attend a rally at city hall Tuesday in advance of a public hearing on the rezoning application. Ho says the Chinatown Concern Group will be calling for a 100 per cent pension rate social housing building instead. It also wants to see the city make it easier for family-owned retailers to come back into the neighbourhood. Many grocery and herb stores have been pushed out due to rising property taxes and rents.
Ho fears Chinatown will soon be unrecognizable.
“A lot of people are starting to have trouble finding groceries and basic necessities in that area now,” she said.
The revised rezoning application currently under review includes a few changes from the original application, including: one storey shorter than before, nine fewer market-rate units, and a new courtyard open to the public.
City councillors are not permitted to speak about the matter before its public hearing.
1 p.m. at 105 Keefer St.
Monday, May 22
6 p.m. at city hall
Tuesday, May 23