Paul Liberatore

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No more tall buildings in Chinatown suggested by Vancouver city planners

  • <p>The City of Vancouver is taking action to calm speculation in Chinatown.</p>

Vancouver city staff are recommending in a report that tall buildings should no longer be allowed in Chinatown.

Staff have proposed a height limit of 90 feet on new developments in order to preserve the character of the historic neighbourhood.

This could mean that council has to revoke its 2011 decision that permitted developers to seek approval of rezoning applications for towers in areas south of Pender Street.


The completed 17-storey condo project by Westbank Projects Corp. at 188 Keefer Street and BlueSky Properties’ finished 16-storey building at 633 Main Street are two examples of these big developments.

Staff have also suggested limiting the width of storefronts and development sites as a way to protect the unique quality of Chinatown.

Council was originally scheduled to decide on May 15 whether or not to refer the zoning changes to a public hearing.

However, council delayed action by three weeks following a motion by Coun. Raymond Louie that was seconded by Coun. Melissa De Genova.

The matter returns to council on Tuesday (June 5).

Meanwhile, a petition has been launched urging council to “refer the new Chinatown zoning policies to public hearing as soon as possible”.

“Chinatown is a special historic cultural neighbourhood in Vancouver that needs to be protected from intense development pressures and real-estate speculation,” the petition, initiated by the #SaveChinatownYVR campaign, states.

The report containing zoning changes was prepared by Karen Hoese, acting assistant director for downtown with the city’s planning, urban design, and sustainability department.

In her report, Hoese wrote that the changes are meant to “immediately manage development and calm speculation”.

“Land value has almost doubled between 2012 and 2016,” Hoese noted. “Property taxes have also increased, which in many cases are passed directly onto commercial tenants, making it difficult for them to continue to operate.”

It recommended that the proposed changes exempt the rezoning application for a 15-storey condo tower at 728–796 Main Street that is currently in process.


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