In a 9-2 vote on Tuesday, Vancouver City Council approved the rezoning application for a 145-ft-tall, 14-storey secured rental housing building in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood.
The proposal by local developer Peterson Group for 1111-1123 Kingsway — the northwest corner of the intersection of Kingsway and Glen Drive — was first submitted in July 2019, and subsequently revised in December 2019 and again in January 2020. The project is designed by Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership.
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There will be 131 rental homes, including 107 market rental units and 24 below-market rental units under the city’s Moderate Income Housing Pilot Program. Six units are located on the ground level as townhouses facing Glen Drive or the laneway.
The market rental component will have a unit mix of 32 studios, 38 one-bedroom units, and 37 two-bedroom units, while the below-market rental component will have four studios, 11 one-bedroom units, six two-bedroom units, and three three-bedroom units. MIRHPP rents currently range between $950 for a studio for an average household income of $38,000 and $2,000 for a three-bedroom unit for an average household income of $80,000.
Over 7,300 sq. ft. of ground-level commercial space will help activate the building’s frontage with Kingsway.
The councillors who voted against the project were Jean Swanson and Colleen Hardwick.
Swanson took issue over the “gentrifying impact” the tower will have on the neighbourhood, and the probability of “luxury rentals” within the upper levels.
“The top floors are going to get a premium price. They are going to have a huge impact on the surrounding community, on Little Saigon, on the land values, and on the rents for businesses and residences. There’s also the problem on another MIRHPP on another arterial with virtually nothing done to protect residents from pollutants from traffic,” said Swanson.
She reiterated her long-held stance that the city should “abandon the market as a source of affordable housing,” and instead seek funding from provincial and federal governments for housing or for the municipality’s ability to raise a “progressive property tax” such as a mansion tax.
Hardwick also asserted the redevelopment will “gentrify the neighbourhood,” and called it “misguided” as the type and volume of housing provided is based on her belief that the Housing Vancouver goals are flawed.
“All of these programs are being justified as they align with the goals of the Housing Vancouver strategy, and I’ve been pretty clear in my criticism of that program and looking forward to receiving some up to date analysis and recalibration of our housing plans going forward,” said Hardwick.
Councillor Adriane Carr spoke in favour of the project, although stopped short of calling the below-market rental housing component perfect.
“We don’t have a lot of non-profit housing happening, most of that is delivered by the market. Is this MIRHPP program ideal? It’s not ideal. Is it better than what we had? I think it is. People talked about only having market rental, well this building is only market rental but it’s not all market rate, it’s at least 20% at rent geared to income,” said Carr.
Mixed-income housing is the right approach, said councillor Melissa DeGenova, noting that she does not think “one building should necessary be solely luxury and another building should be ghettoized.”
In response to Swanson’s concerns over air pollution from being next to a major arterial road, DeGenova suggested such buildings providing added housing supply and improved affordability will help lower pollution by reducing the need for long commutes associated with living outside Vancouver.
The redevelopment will have a single full underground level for only 44 vehicle parking stalls — considerably under parking minimum requirements, but offset by a car sharing program and monthly public transit pass for residents. There will also be 262 bike parking spaces.
The total floor area is 103,000 sq. ft., giving the project a floor space ratio density of 5.38 times the size of its 19,200-sq-ft lot, currently occupied by single-storey car repair buildings.