The threat of Beedie’s proposed luxury condo development at 105 Keefer looms over Chinatown once again. Despite having rejected it in 2017 (following multiple rejections by the City & widespread community opposition to the development), Vancouver’s Development Permit Board (DPB) will reconsider 105 Keefer on May 29th.
Between 2015 and 2017, hundreds of Chinatown youth, seniors, and other concerned members of our community mobilized to stop Beedie’s 105 Keefer development, luxury condos that would dwarf the neighbouring Chinatown Memorial Square and Chinatown Memorial Monument honouring Chinese-Canadian labourers and veterans, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, the public park next-door. This gentrifying project was ultimately stopped through a groundswell of community-led activism and the prudent decision of Vancouver’s Development Permit Board to reject this development, which would contain 111 units of market condos in one of Canada’s lowest income neighbourhoods.
Unfortunately, following a decision by the BC Supreme Court (which found that the initial rejection of the project was warranted, but required better written reasons), the DPB must reconsider 105 Keefer on May 29th. As gentrification pressures on Chinatown have grown since 2017, it’s more important than ever that the DPB reject this project.
The Issues With 105 Keefer
It’s important to note that Beedie’s latest 9-storey proposal would include no affordable or culturally sensitive housing, or any other measures to ensure that the building would serve the needs of our community. We’ve seen from Chinatowns and other communities of colour across North America, like Portland Chinatown, Montreal Chinatown, and Seattle’s Chinatown & International District, among others, that these kinds of luxury condo developments accelerate gentrification, the economic displacement of long-time residents and business, and cultural erasure. Even in Vancouver, we’ve seen this play out with the massive condo developments lining Main St in Chinatown and the rest of the neighbourhood. As Carol Lee (Current Chair and Co-founder of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation) noted at a public hearing on 105 Keefer in 2017 on behalf of the Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization Committee,
“We found out the hard way that these new large buildings that were supposed to revitalize the community had an economic impact opposite of what [they were] supposed to do. They accelerated the way that gentrification has been sweeping across Chinatown and pushed out the very people [they] were supposed to help”
Carol Lee speaking against 105 Keefer on behalf of the Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization Committee during a 2017 Public Hearing at City Hall.
The fact is that despite claims that new market condo developments will bring “body heat” into our neighbourhood and help revitalize Chinatown, they actually worsen the pressure of gentrification and create spaces inaccessible to most in our community.
As a youth-led organization with the mission of sharing Chinatown’s stories – past, present, and future, Chinatown Today is deeply committed to protecting these vital sites of cultural heritage, community, story-sharing, and story-making in our community. Beedie’s 105 Keefer development poses a real danger to Chinatown, threatening to tower over vital cultural spaces like the Chinatown Memorial Square and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, while exacerbating the pressures of displacement and gentrification that already face our community. If you care about the future of Chinatown, please submit comments to the DPB, send in a letter, and if you can, sign up to speak at the hearing on May 29th.