Developing Story: Casa Mia and Heather Place status updated

Casa Mia
It’s been well over a month since the City of Vancouver announced the Casa Mia public hearing would be delayed because “staff and the applicant were unable to finalize the legal agreement securing heritage in time for the public hearing.”

But it remains unclear what exactly is happening behind closed doors at city hall or when the hearing might be rescheduled.

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The Southlands Community Association, which had filed an application for an injunction to stop the originally scheduled March 13 hearing, continues to campaign against the proposal, urging its supporters to send protest letters to the city.

“To date, no new time has been set for the public hearing. To the best of our knowledge the developer and the city have not been able to finalize the issues that delayed the initial hearing. We still find it quite amazing that they fought so vigorously against our injunction and then had to delay the hearing the very next day. Our injunction was being filed to prevent the hearing and since no new hearing has been scheduled by definition we cannot re-file the injunction.

Given that the city remains uncooperative this does however remain a viable course of action for the SCA,” association spokesman Joe McDermid wrote in an email to the Courier.

The group had filed an FOI request for all material and communication between the city and developer that relates to Casa Mia, but McDermid says “that material has not been received as the city continues to request more time to gather it.”

City communications staff pointed the Courier to their March 13 notice about the delay and added that nothing has been scheduled yet.

Heather Place
Council approved Metro Vancouver’s rezoning application for Heather Place earlier this week in a 9-1 vote. Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr voted against the application.

Public opposition came from individuals and organizations such as COPE, which released its own 100-page report on creating a Vancouver Housing Authority this week, Save Heather Place spokesman Nathan Crompton who argues all of the affordable housing units won’t be replaced, and Heather Place tenant Karen Gilchrist.

Concerns included the size of the development, building height, increased density, parking and traffic impacts, and housing affordability.

Correspondence included three emails in support, 21 emails against and one email regarding another matter.

But some Heather Place tenants spoke in support of the project, including Tamara Szymanska, who talked to the Courier earlier this month before council’s decision.

Szymanska chairs a group called Independent Residents of Heather Place. She’s also a director on board of the Tenants Association of Heather Place.

Szymanska said tenants had concerns about the project when Metro Vancouver first proposed it, but most of those concerns have since been addressed.

“I think the majority of residents support [the application]. There are a few that don’t, but the majority support it,” she said. "Most of the things we asked, Metro Vancouver implemented into the whole plan."

Szymanska said granted requests include that the land be kept in the public hands and not be sold to the developer, that the new complex be 100 per cent smoke free and that there be phased construction.

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