Two 14-storey rental buildings approved for East Hastings Street

Vancouver council, staff promise to address neighbourhood traffic complaints

City council approved two 14-storey buildings on East Hastings in the northeast corner of Vancouver that will produce 212 rental apartments, 43 of which will be for moderate income households, after a pair of public hearings that concluded Jan. 28.

It’s just the latest in a series of approvals for the first handful projects under the city’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP), which allows for 20 projects.

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Four other developments were given the OK in recent months, bringing the total to six.

The two 14-storey buildings will be constructed at 3600 and 3680 East Hastings between Kootenay Street and Boundary Road.

PCI Developments is behind both projects, which city council considered and voted on separately.

COPE Coun. Jean Swanson cast the only No vote for both rezoning applications.

Speaking against the building proposed for 3600 East Hastings, which passed in a 10-1 vote, Swanson said she was concerned there’s no pollution mitigation given tenants will be living on a major arterial, she was worried about liveability because of some “closet-sized windowless bedrooms,” and she thought its approval might gentrify the neighbourhood, putting existing affordable rental homes at risk in the future.

“We will get 19 moderate income units but will we lose 100 units that are relatively affordable,” right now?” she said of the building planned for 3600 East Hastings. “The city needs to think about the impact of gentrification in all our rezoning decisions.”

The rest of council, meanwhile, saw the opportunity to create some much-needed units for households earning between $30,000 and $80,000.

They also noted the project would help the city meet its housing goals and the additional residents may help attract more businesses to the street and “help build community.”

NPA Coun. Sarah Kirby-Young added that 53 per cent of Vancouverites now rent, and that figure won’t be going down.

Some speakers complained it was a forgotten neighbourhood given its location past Cassiar and close to Burnaby.

While Green Coun. Pete Fry said he supported the proposal because of the moderate income units, he mentioned his ongoing concerns about the lack of Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) and Development Cost Levies (DCLs) in some of these types of projects.

“We have heard that there is a general sense that this is an orphaned part of Vancouver and we’re really failing on delivering some of the amenities to this particular part of Vancouver,” he said.

“Obviously, in the absence of any CACs or DCLs that come with this project, we’re going to be increasingly challenged to deliver the kind of complete communities that we really all ran on. That’s going to be especially important as we add more projects of this nature, to make sure we’re achieving the kind of public benefits that every other neighbourhood in the city has relied on and expected.”

Traffic and parking were among the main issues raised by those opposed to both developments, as well as by some of those were supportive of the projects.

When an accident occurs on the Second Narrows Bridge, it causes significant backup along East Hastings, preventing cars and buses from getting through. Vehicles also speed in the area and take short-cuts through surrounding neighbourhoods, which bothers residents. Some speakers complained parking has become a problem on side streets because new rental developments don’t have sufficient resident parking in their buildings.

While city staff said transportation studies indicate the new buildings will have minimal impact on the existing situation, councillors said they heard residents’ concerns “loud and clear.” City manager Sadhu Johnston promised there would be a broader conversation about traffic management and traffic calming separate from the public hearings.

During the discussion about the rezoning application for 3680 East Hastings, Mayor Kennedy Stewart asked staff who’s responsible for transportation issues given Hastings Street intersects with the highway and bridge, and it crosses through other municipalities.

“If traffic was a little better, maybe people wouldn’t be so unhappy about what’s going on in their neighbourhood,” he said.

The city only has control over what’s within city limits, so staff said a coordinated approach would be required.

Johnston said staff could send a letter or raise the issue with the province, which wouldn’t require council direction.

The rezoning application for 3680 East Hastings was approved in a 9-1 vote. Coun. Michael Wiebe was absent.

noconnor@vancourier.com

Note: This story has been corrected since first posted. The sites are in the northeast corner, not northwest corner, of the city.

 


 

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